Social engineering isn’t just a personal threat—it’s a corporate one.
More than half of all businesses are a target of a social engineering or spear phishing attack every year. It’s an increasingly pressing issue, and it’s one that many businesses are only just starting to take seriously.
Whether you’re the owner of a small, medium, or large business, know that social engineering attackers don’t discriminate due to size. If you don’t learn how to defend against social engineering, you could likely be the next victim of an attack.
What is Social Engineering?
As it pertains to information security, social engineering is the manipulation of people into performing actions or sharing confidential information without them knowing or due to human error.
There are many types of social engineering attacks, but the ones below are the most commonly seen by security professionals.
- Phishing. Scammers will use deceptive phishing emails, websites, phone calls, and texts to steal sensitive information from unsuspecting victims.
- Spear Phishing. Is a type of email scam that is used to carry out targeted attacks against businesses.
- Baiting. Perpetrated online or in person, this type of attack involves cybercriminals promising the victim a reward in return for private information.
- Malware. A cyberattack involving malicious software, like ransomware or scareware. Victims are sent an urgently worded message and tricked into installing malware on their devices by hackers.
- Pretexting. Is a form of social engineering that involves the perpetrator assuming a false identity to trick victims into giving up information.
- Tailgating. This attack targets individuals who can give scammers physical access to a secure building or area. These scams often work because of misguided common courtesy, like when a door is held open for an unfamiliar “co-worker.”
- Vishing. In this situation, cybercriminals leave urgent voicemails to convince victims they must act now to protect themselves from arrest or another risk under the guise of being a financial organization, a federal agency, or law enforcement.
How Data Breaches Affect Businesses
You’ve likely read about the potential impact of social engineering on your personal life, but what about the impact of social engineering on businesses? Here are the main consequences you’ll incur if your business falls victim to an attack:
- Financial implications. Bad actors are always after something, and usually, it’s money. Social engineering can cost businesses anywhere from tens of thousands to millions of dollars—and that doesn’t even include the costs associated with recovery.
- Productivity costs. In any business, time is money. A successful attack means significant time lost rectifying the impact of social engineering and resolving the damage. This often craters the IT team’s productivity, general employee productivity, and ultimately the business’s profitability.
- Operational disruption. Reduced productivity won’t just impact your IT team—it can trickle down your entire supply chain or service delivery operations, slowing every moving part of your business and causing logistical delays.
- Reputational damage. Cybersecurity attacks are extremely dangerous and put both business and customer information at risk. If you’re seen as an organization that’s not adequately protected, customers won’t feel safe—and it can be difficult to build back that trust.
Preventing Social Engineering Attacks
Fortunately, there are ways to prevent social engineering attacks from happening. Learning how to defend against social engineering starts with recognizing the signs. Also, investing in proven cybersecurity solutions and mandatory, company-wide training are great ways to keep your business safe from the impact of social engineering. To help keep your operations running smoothly—and your business safe—see how SiteLock can help keep your website safe.
To learn more about the impact of social engineering tactics and cybercrime, read “What is Social Engineering?”