At first glance, it may seem that social engineering attacks shouldn’t fall into the purview of insider risk management. After all, many attacks of this nature come from external actors looking to get into your company’s systems. Aside from the point that the key objective of your insider risk management program is to protect your internal data from all threats, the very nature of social engineering attacks should give security professionals cause for concern. An attacker will attempt to steal a user’s credentials and then use them to access your organizational data. Without a coherent, developed security strategy in place, your organization can be at risk. So what should you and your team be looking for and how do you protect your organization from the potentially calamitous effects of a social engineering attack?
Common Social Engineering Techniques
First, it’s important to recognize the techniques that a potential attacker will use to steal credentials. We can use this information to devise strategies to counter them. Here are three of the most common social engineering techniques:
- Phishing: the attacker impersonates a familiar or trusted source to try and scam their victim into giving up their credentials. This is usually done via email but scammers can also try to phish via phone as well.
- Pretexting: similar to phishing, pretexting involves the attacker creating a fake identity which they will use to try and convince their victims to give up their credentials. They may impersonate an IT service provider, for example, and ask for a victim’s login details to help fix a “technical problem”.
- Quid Pro Quo: Latin for “something for something”, the attacker offers something to the victim in exchange for their information or to complete specific actions.
Strategies to Combat Social Engineering
It can be very challenging to protect your organization from social engineering attacks because you can’t simply hover over every employee at your company, warning them whenever they receive a suspicious email. Because these attacks come from sources that seem rather ordinary, your team needs to stay vigilant and have plans in place to tackle these attacks before they have a chance to develop. Some strategies to put in place include:
- Developing a Culture of Security: creating an awareness of security issues at your organization is one of the best ways to counteract social engineering. Knowledge is power and your data is only as secure as your weakest link. No matter what other strategies you may employ, without this culture of security awareness you may find these other strategies won’t be as effective.
- Two-Factor/Multi-Factor Authentication: additional authentication procedures protect your organization when other systems like firewalls and antivirus software fail. Make sure this is fully implemented in your systems.
- Adopting Zero Standing Privileges: recommended by Gartner, one of the world’s leading cybersecurity organizations, zero standing privileges involves only giving users access to data, software, or other assets only as long as they need to complete a task. This security setup is very robust, but it creates a situation where even if an attacker gets access through a user’s credentials, chances are they won’t have access to sensitive data.
Contact ITMG to Assess Your Current Capabilities and Develop Strategies and Protocols Designed to Help Your Company Mitigate Your Insider Risk
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