Social engineering is an old term used to refer to the practice of intentionally causing trouble or harming someone in order to gain personal information. While many companies use social engineering in their quest to get new customers, businesses that deal with sensitive information will find these tests more useful. These tests can range from straightforward port scans to full-fledged hacking attacks. But because security hinges on how people behave, not only on technology, social engineering has long been one possible weapon for use in social penetration testing. Hacking is also a very common way of breaching a network, and a successful social engineering test can determine the effectiveness of protective policies and how effectively workers follow them.
While it’s possible to come up with elaborate scams, it’s also very hard to fake a genuine interest in someone else’s online activity. People who work with social engineering need to be able to look past the playful intentions behind seemingly innocent comments and actions. If someone is truly being helpful, they’ll usually post positive stories about themselves. But even the best intentions aren’t enough to stop someone from trying to break into someone else’s network. So a thorough social engineering test will pinpoint whether the employee has ulterior motives or if they’re simply being helpful.
There are two types of social engineering attacks, strategic andasive. A strategic attack involves sending a confidential message or email to an employee, only known to the intended recipient. This kind of attack is considered to be the most common way of conducting social engineering attacks because it’s typically done by an expert or an experienced hacker. The hacker or technician will use their knowledge of the network to trick their target into believing that their system is secure and then execute a successful penetration test. An experienced hacker would know exactly what to say and do to create a positive result. For example, if the hacker suspects that the target has low level information but could be turned into a high-level employee, they might conclude that by planting a virus or worm on the system, they can access some sensitive information.
Social Engineering Test
A non-strategic or an ethical social engineering test typically doesn’t involve any hacking at all. Instead, it involves a company’s employees taking the necessary steps to protect themselves and their company. These social engineering engagements may take the form of simple precautions that an employee would take to avoid becoming a victim of phishing, or it could include the reporting of phishing attempts to the proper authorities.
To conduct a successful social engineering test, a security consultant must create a questionnaire for the employees to answer. Each question should be answered honestly and with full disclosure. The consultant will use this questionnaire as the basis for conducting interviews with the employees to verify the information provided. Once the information is verified, the security consultant will develop a plan to train employees how to prevent phishing and report it when it is discovered.
Many companies believe that successful social engineering testing requires the cooperation of both IT departments and the employees. In order to conduct a successful social engineering test, both sides must work in unison. IT needs to monitor the employees’ actions and IT staff needs to monitor the employees’ actions. By working together, both sides gain valuable information that will help them strengthen their defenses against phishing attacks and create new, ethical ways to protect the company from external threats.