5 Social Engineering Scams Your Workforce Should Know!

5 Social Engineering Scams Your Workforce Should Know!

Employee awareness of social engineering is essential for ensuring corporate cybersecurity. If end users know the main characteristics of these attacks, it’s much more likely they can avoid falling for them. Today’s data threats don’t discriminate; businesses of all sizes are susceptible to attacks. However, small to medium-sized businesses (SMBs) are often less prepared to deal with security threats than their larger counterparts. The reasons for this vary from business to business, but ultimately it comes down to the fact that SMBs often have less resources to devote to cyber security efforts.

Here are a Few Social Engineering Scams to Know

  • Phishing: The leading tactic leveraged by today’s ransomware hackers, typically delivered in the form of an email, chat, web ad or website designed to impersonate a real system and organization. Often crafted to deliver a sense of urgency and importance, the message within these emails often appears to be from the government or a major corporation and can include logos and branding.
  • Baiting: Similar to phishing, baiting involves offering something enticing to an end user in exchange for private data. The “bait” comes in many forms, both digital, such as a music or movie download, and physical, such as a branded flash drive labeled “Executive Salary Summary Q3 2016” that is left out on a desk for an end user to find. Once the bait is taken, malicious software is delivered directly into the victim’s computer.
  • Quid Pro Quo: Similar to baiting, quid pro quo involves a request for the exchange of private data but for a service. For example, an employee might receive a phone call from the hacker posed as a technology expert offering free IT assistance in exchange for login credentials.
  • Pretexting: Is when a hacker creates a false sense of trust between themselves and the end user by impersonating a co-worker, professional colleague or a figure of authority within the company in order to gain access to private data. For example, a hacker may send an email or a chat message posing as the head of IT Support who needs private data in order to comply with a corporate audit – that isn’t real.
  • Tailgating: An unauthorized person physically follows an employee into a restricted corporate area or system. The most common example of this is when a hacker calls out to an employee to hold a door open for them as they’ve forgotten their RFID card. Another example of tailgating is when a hacker asks an employee to “borrow” a private laptop for a few minutes, during which the criminal is able to quickly steal data or install malicious software.

Play it Safe

Ensure all employees are wary of any email containing an attachment they aren’t expecting, especially if said attachment is a Microsoft Office file. Before clicking on anything, make sure they confirm with the sender (via phone, text, separate email) what it is before opening or clicking anything. Today’s employees are connected to the Internet all day every day, communicating with
colleagues and stakeholders, sharing critical information and jumping from site to site. With hacking, data breaches and ransomware attacks on the rise, it is essential for all companies to plan for the worst, with mandatory cyber security training for all employees and with the recommended solutions for mitigating the risks.

Photo via Shutterstock


Angela Nadeau Angela Nadeau is CEO of CompuData, an award-winning business technologies leader. Angela maintains a deep knowledge of the trends driving businesses today to be more productive and profitable by leveraging technology. With more than 25 years of expertise, she has advised thousands of businesses on effective ways to leverage technology to increase productivity, profitability and efficiency – guiding businesses of all sizes to new levels of market success and corporate growth.

3 Reactions
  1. It is very important to let your employees know about this especially if they deal with transactions in your business.

  2. This has been present since the start of the Internet and yet so many people still fall victims.

  3. It is all about education. The more people know about it, the less likely that they will be victims.