As technology evolves, and cybersecurity solutions become ever more sophisticated, it’s tougher for hackers to break their way into your computer or IT infrastructure. That’s why hacking efforts often start with keying in on a user and getting them to unwittingly provide sensitive information.
It’s much easier to get a user to unknowingly download malware or fall for a phishing scam. When it comes to the IT infrastructure of your business, your employees are essentially the weakest point and hackers will key in on that. It’s important to train employees to practice common sense online behavior so that they aren’t handing hackers the proverbial keys to your network.
Plenty of users fall into these traps, and by no means does that indicate they are unintelligent. Phishing and similar tactics can be incredibly convincing — often, a user doesn’t even know that they handed over information, even after the effects of an attack have been made apparent.
A lot of this online trickery can be attributed to one highly effective weapon that hackers have at their disposal: social engineering.
How hackers prey on emotions and are successful in doing so
Social engineering goes far beyond the tech world — it’s a way to psychologically manipulate other people into doing something. Hackers use it, and that thing they want you to do is hand over information or take some sort of action.
Hackers do this by trying to invoke certain emotions, which will prompt you into taking a certain action. They will:
- Pique your interests. Hackers will often promise something you really want to see. This often comes in the form of clickbait that is online, or e-mailed to you. Users see something that catches their interest or curiosity, which may lead them to clicking a corrupted link.
- Gain your confidence. In the age of social media, hackers often do their homework. By using your personal information, they can gain your confidence, convincing you that they have a connection with you in real life. Once this confidence is established, it can lead to the desired action — clicking a link, downloading a file or something else. Locking up your social media channels so that only friends and family can view them is a step in the right direction.
- Make you scared. This is the whole basis behind the concept of ransomware. Hackers can use various means to trick you into thinking they have collected sensitive/embarrassing information (i.e. blackmail), threaten to lock you out of accessing important information stored on your computer and more. This often puts users in a panic, making them more apt to make a rash decision.
Hacking has turned into psychological warfare, but everyone that uses your company’s network can fight back by simply being more savvy.
Fortify the weakest point in your network by training employees
Aside from making sure that robust cybersecurity measures are in place, it’s important to train employees on common sense online behavior.
When they are trained to spot warning signs, they are far less likely to slip up and compromise your IT infrastructure.