8 Ways Organisations Prevent Social Engineering Attacks

Standards and approaches to cybersecurity are improving all around the world, with organizations beginning to implement state-of-the-art technical defenses to their network and computer systems. Upon realising this, hackers are deciding that the effort and resources needed to get through these defenses aren’t worth it, instead they are targeting the end-user with increasingly effective social engineering attempts. In a Verizon Data Breach Incident Report for 2020, it was discovered that phishing, a form of social engineering, was responsible for 22% of incidents that were reported.

From our previous blogs, you know what is social engineering and the common types of social engineering attacks. We also looked at how what employees can do to prevent these attacks.

However, how can organisations prevent social engineering attempts like phishing from being successful? 

Below are eight key ways your organization can prevent social engineering attempts from being successful: 

#1. Security Awareness Training 

One of the best ways to defend against social engineering attacks is ensuring that the employees of your organization understand how cybercriminals work. Due to the fact that social engineering is designed around taking advantage of flaws in human behaviour, designing a comprehensive security awareness training program is crucial in defending your organization and its employees. 

For example: Phishing is one of the most popular social engineering tactics and usually takes the form of an email that encourages a recipient to click on a link or download a file that gives the attacker access to a computer or network systems in the organization. 

A successful phishing campaign preys on a victim’s inability to identify certain red flags like a spoof email address or hyperlink, teaching employees of these telltale signs can help them easily identify and eliminate social engineering threats like Phishing. 

#2. Simulating Social Engineering Attempts 

Great, your organization has implemented a thorough security awareness training program, so what’s next? Instead of stopping at educating employees on cybersecurity, it is vital that your organization goes one step further and tests employees via social engineering simulations. 

For example: Phishing simulations can be acquired by vendors and are typically cloud based, hence these simulations can be run remotely by your organization and tailored to it’s unique needs. These simulations can teach you how effective an actual phishing campaign would be on your organization. 

Simulation can help improve your organization’s training and awareness procedures and policies. It can alert you to the areas that need to be focused on and improved so that your employees successfully avoid and detect social engineering attempts. 

#3. Increase Spam Filtering via Email Gateways 

Cyber criminals love using email as a tool to carry out their social engineering attempts, therefore it is vital that your organization implements the right email gateways to flag these attempts as spam in your employees' inbox. Spam makes up 45% of all emails, with a majority of it being socially engineered to compromise computer systems, networks and steal data, implementing a good email gateway can prevent up to 99.9% of all spam. 

#4. Implement Policies Around Social Media Usage 

Cyber criminals tend to collect intelligence on their victims via social media, for example, spear phishing is a type of phishing that is targeted and personalised to a specific individual. The degree to which these attempts are successful is dependent on the amount of information the attacker can gather on their victim. As oversharing can be an issue, having a policy around how and what employees post on social media can help reduce the chances of social engineering attempts from being successful.

#5. Implement Appropriate Policy For Key Procedures 

Technological processes are limited in the amount they can help when it comes to social engineering attempts. Social engineering is designed in a way to trick human beings, so anti-malware, anti-virus, network firewalls etc. fail to prevent social engineering from being successful. Therefore implementing appropriate policies when dealing with procedures like transfering money or making payments can help reduce the success rate of cyber criminals. 

For example: CEO Fraud is a type of spear-phishing email attack in which the attacker impersonates the CEO of your organization. Typically, the attacker aims to trick employees into transferring money to a bank account owned by the attacker. Implementing a strict policy around money transfers e.g. face to face confirmation of transfers over a certain amount, can easily eliminate social engineering attempts by cyber criminals. 

#6. Multi-Factor Authentication 

Social Engineering schemes usually rely on increasing privilege levels to gain access to an organization’s systems and networks. Implementing multi-factor authentication such as two-factor authentication, which needs another factor other than username and password to enable access, can increase the chances of preventing social engineering tactics before their completion. 

For example: attackers who gain access to login credentials from employees will then need to jump through another loop to gain full privileged access to an organization’s network and systems. Also making sure only certain employees are authorized to access privileged resources. 

#7. Monitor Critical Systems 24/7

To increase the efficiency in identifying cyber threats, make sure your critical systems that house sensitive information are monitored 24/7 by your information security officer or team. Certain social engineering tactics like Trojan attacks, manipulate users into running seemingly innocent programs that hide malicious ulterior motives. Vulnerability assessments can help scan internal and external systems of your organization for vulnerabilities. 

#8. Utilise SSL Certification

Encrypting data can help minimise the repercussions of hackers gaining access to your organization’s communication systems. Encryption can be achieved by obtaining SSL certification from authorities. An SSL certificate is a type of digital certificate that provides authentication for a website and enables an encrypted connection, a simple analogy is that it acts like an envelope and seal for a letter. 

To conclude

Social Engineering is becoming an increasingly effective method for cybercriminals to breach an organization’s security measures. It is vital that your organization implements the appropriate defenses that include but isn’t limited to the above eight precautions, to prevent social engineering attacks. StickmanCyber's team is equipped to help your employees recognise such attempts, and prevent social engineering attacks. 

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