Ever been targeted by a social engineering attack? Chances are, the answer is “yes,” even if you didn’t realize it at the time. According to a 2019 report, 99% of cyberattacks use social engineering techniques to trick users into installing malware.

The good news is that they can be avoided. Learning about the most common methods used in social engineering is the best way to start. If that sounds overwhelming, don’t worry—we’re here to help you get up to speed. Here are four of the most common forms of social engineering used by hackers:

  1. Phishing. According to the FBI, phishing was the most common type of cybercrime in 2020. We’ve all been there before—checking our emails only to spot an “urgent” message that includes a suspicious link. With a single click, you could fall victim to one of the most common methods used in social engineering.
  1. Vishing. Your credit card has been compromised. Please provide [insert sensitive information here] to fix the issue.” Ever received a phone call like this? Vishing is one of the most common forms of social engineering used by hackers. Odds are, a scammer was on the other end of the line.
  1. Baiting. Another one of the most common forms of social engineering used by hackers, baiting preys on human greed and curiosity. During a digital baiting attack, a cybercriminal might prompt you to provide login credentials with the promise of a free reward. In person, you might stumble upon a flashdrive labeled “confidential”—then take the bait, insert the infected device into your computer, and pay the consequences.
  1. Scareware. Fear is a powerful motivator. One of the most common methods used in social engineering, a scareware attack might look something like this: A popup appears on your screen, notifying you that there is malware on your computer and providing a link to download “antivirus” software. In  a panic, you click the link—and fall right into the hacker’s trap.

Want to take a deeper dive into social engineering? For a more comprehensive overview, read our post on “What Is Social Engineering?” from the SiteLock blog. You can also check out another great post, “Social Engineering Attacks: Different Types And How To Prevent Them” to learn more about the most common forms of social engineering used by hackers—and steps you can take to counteract them.