Cyber Security

Social Engineering
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 organization 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 organization'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 organization and rely on the information from the first source to add to his or her credibility.

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 organization, try to verify his or her identity directly with the company. Do not provide personal information or information about your organization, 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 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. (See Understanding Firewalls, Understanding Anti-Virus Software, and Reducing Spam for more information.) 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 organization, report it to the appropriate people within the organization. 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 un-explainable 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. Consider reporting the attack to the police, and file a report with the Federal Trade Commission.

Author US-CERT Publications

Phishing

Phishing is the attempt to obtain sensitive information such as usernames, passwords, and credit card details (and, indirectly, money), often for malicious reasons, by disguising as a trustworthy entity in an electronic communication. The word is a neologism created as a homophone of fishing due to the similarity of using a bait in an attempt to catch a victim. Phishing is typically carried out by email spoofing or instant messaging, and it often directs users to enter personal information at a fake website, the look and feel of which are identical to the legitimate one and the only difference is the URL of the website in concern. Communications purporting to be from social web sites, auction sites, banks, online payment processors or IT administrators are often used to lure victims. Phishing emails may contain links to websites that are infected with malware. Phishing is an example of social engineering techniques used to deceive users, and exploits weaknesses in current web security. Attempts to deal with the growing number of reported phishing incidents include legislation, user training, public awareness, and technical security measures.

 

Physical Security

Skimmers

Skimmers are malicious card readers that grad personal information off of the magnetic strip on your card. This devices are often attached to legitamite payment termainals in order to harvest user's data to use later. The data in turn, is used to steal funds, make a clone of the person's card, or steal a user's identity.


Things to check for:

  • Tampering of the terminal you are using, whether it's an ATM, gas pump, etc...
  • Do the wiggle check. If parts of the ATM tend to wiggle or come off, there is a good chance it wasn't meant to be there.
  • Watch for shoulder surfers or even cameras that look out of place. These are good ways for criminals to get your PIN number.



Personal Documents

You might be surprised what criminals can find off of everyday mail items. Make sure you are taking care to properly dispose of documents containing pertainant personal information. These items may assist a criminal in getting more data via social engineering schemes like phishing.



Mobile Devices

Everyone these days has a mobile device. This may be convenient for most everyday activities but it also holds a lot of personal information about you. Some things to look out for when using your device.

  • Make sure you are dowloading apps from reputable sources.
  • Lock your phone and if possible make sure the data on it is encrypted.
  • When buying a new phone, always properly detroy your old phone or reset it to the factory defaults.
 

What To Do

What to do if you fall victim

  • Contact your financial institution immediately and alert them to the situation.
  • Close accounts that may have been tampered with or opened fraudulently.
  • Call the security or fraud department of each associated company or financial institution. Follow-up in writing and supply copies of supporting documents.
  • It is important to notify credit card companies and financial institutions in writing. Send your letters by certified mail, return receipt requested, so you can document when and what the company received. Keep copies of your correspondence and enclosures.
  • Report all suspicious contacts to the Federal Trade Commission through the Internet at http://www.ftc.gov/bcp/edu/microsites/idtheft/, or by calling 1-877-IDTHEFT (1-877-438-4338).
  • Check with your state Attorney General’s office to find out if state law requires the police to take reports for identity theft. Check the Blue Pages of your telephone directory for the phone number, or check http://www.naag.org/ for a list of state Attorneys General.
  • If possible, file a report with local police, or police in the community where the identity theft took place. Obtain a copy of the police report or the report number. It can help you deal with creditors who need proof of the crime.
  • If the police are reluctant to take your report, ask to file a “Miscellaneous Incidents” report.

 

If you disclose sensitive information in a phishing attack, contact one of the three major credit bureaus listed below and discuss whether to place a fraud alert on your file. A fraud alert will help prevent thieves from opening a new account in your name.

Equifax

800-525-6285 P.O. Box 740250 Atlanta, GA 30374

Experian

888-397-3742 P.O. Box 1017 Allen, TX 75013

TransUnion

800-680-7289 P.O. Box 6790 Fullerton, CA 92634


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