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Avoiding Social Engineering and Phishing Attacks

Kat McDevitt - Friday, January 11, 2019
What is a social engineering attack?
In a social engineering attack, an attacker uses human interaction (social skills) to obtain or compromise information about an organisation or its computer systems. An attacker may seem unassuming and respectable, possibly claiming to be a new employee, repair person, or researcher and even offering credentials to support that identity. However, by asking questions, he or she may be able to piece together enough information to infiltrate an organisation's network. If an attacker is not able to gather enough information from one source, he or she may contact another source within the same organisation and rely on the information from the first source to add to his or her credibility.


What is a phishing attack?
Phishing is a form of social engineering. Phishing attacks use email or malicious websites to solicit personal information by posing as a trustworthy organisation. For example, an attacker may send email seemingly from a reputable credit card company or financial institution that requests account information, often suggesting that there is a problem. When users respond with the requested information, attackers can use it to gain access to the accounts.
Phishing attacks may also appear to come from other types of organisations, such as charities. Attackers often take advantage of current events and certain times of the year, such as:
natural disasters (e.g., Hurricane Katrina, Indonesian tsunami);
epidemics and health scares (e.g., H1N1);
economic concerns (e.g., ATO scams);
major political elections;
holidays.



How do you avoid being a victim?
Be suspicious of unsolicited phone calls, visits, or email messages from individuals asking about employees or other internal information. If an unknown individual claims to be from a legitimate organisation, try to verify his or her identity directly with the company.
Do not provide personal information or information about your organisation, including its structure or networks, unless you are certain of a person's authority to have the information.
Do not reveal personal or financial information in email and do not respond to email solicitations for this information. This includes following links sent in email.
Don't send sensitive information over the internet before checking a website's security. 
Pay attention to the Uniform Resource Locator (URL) of a website. Malicious websites may look identical to a legitimate site, but the URL may use a variation in spelling or a different domain (e.g., .com vs. .net).
If you are unsure whether an email request is legitimate, try to verify it by contacting the company directly. Do not use contact information provided on a website connected to the request; instead, check previous statements for contact information. Information about known phishing attacks is also available online from groups such as the Anti-Phishing Working Group.
Install and maintain anti-virus software, firewalls and email filters to reduce some of this traffic. 
Take advantage of any anti-phishing features offered by your email client and web browser.


What do you do if you think you are a victim?

If you believe you might have revealed sensitive information about your organisation, report it to the appropriate people within the organisation, including network administrators. They can be alert for any suspicious or unusual activity.
If you believe your financial accounts may be compromised, contact your financial institution immediately and close any accounts that may have been compromised. Watch for any unexplainable charges to your account.
Immediately change any passwords you might have revealed. If you used the same password for multiple resources, make sure to change it for each account, and do not use that password in the future.
Watch for other signs of identity theft. 


What can you use to help prevent attacks from happening? 
Mimecast's new cybersecurity awareness training and cyber risk management platform Ataata can help you combat information security breaches caused by employee mistakes. Ataata uses cybersecurity training modules to help your employees understand how people make catastrophic security mistakes and what the consequences are for them, their friends and their family. 

The modules are fun and entertaining despite the serious nature of the topic - and the learning just happens. While employees becoming security-aware, Ataata captures data and transform it into insights for managing risk. Ataata's unique risk scoring and analysis help drive future training, building a virtuous cycle of improvement. Ataata's modules use fun to evade employees’ psychological defences against security awareness training and Ataata goes beyond facts, showing people why they need to care, helping you achieve GDPR compliance by quickly educating employees on these crucial new data privacy rules.

If you would like to find out more about Mimecast Ataata, Contact Us or get in touch with your account manager. 





 

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