In the modern day, social engineering is often used to describe the concept of a government controlling social developments using a variety of methods. While social engineering is definitely a thing, this article is about the scams which use the same name because of their prevalence on social media.
Social engineering scams are some of the most difficult to avoid because they can be incredibly sneaky and unfortunately they are very common in cryptocurrency. Read on to learn more about social engineering scams and how you can work to ensure you don’t become victim to one.
What Are Social Engineering Scams?
Social engineering is a technique used by malicious individuals to manipulate and deceive people into divulging confidential information, performing certain actions, or providing access to restricted resources using social media. Instead of exploiting technical vulnerabilities, social engineering preys on human psychology and trust to achieve its goals.
Social engineering scams are successful because they exploit human emotions, curiosity, fear, or willingness to help. Individuals and organizations should stay vigilant, be cautious about sharing personal information, and be aware of the various techniques used by social engineers to protect themselves from falling victim to these scams. Additionally, educating employees and raising awareness within organizations is crucial to strengthen their overall security posture.
Common Social Engineering Scams
Another issue with social engineering scams is that they come in many forms, some of which you wouldn’t expect. Below are the most popular social engineering scams.
Sending fraudulent emails, messages, or websites that appear to be from a reputable source, aiming to trick recipients into revealing sensitive information like passwords, credit card details, or personal data.
Many people have been tricked by social engineering scams using phishing. The emails will look like they come from a reputable source like PayPal, or your bank, but when you click the link, you will be led to a fake website designed to steal your information.
Creating a fabricated scenario to convince someone to provide information or perform specific actions. The social engineer might pose as a colleague, customer, or someone with legitimate authority to gain trust.
This scam is commonly used for someone who gets your phone number to pose as a friend or family member and message you. asking for something like your social saying they have a new number or are using a friend’s phone.
Luring victims into downloading malware or giving up sensitive information by offering something enticing, such as free software, a USB drive, or other seemingly harmless physical objects.
This is one of the easier social engineering scams to avoid, as most people have learned not to download things without knowing the company or pretext, but it still happens.
Physically following someone into a restricted area or building by exploiting their politeness or assuming a false identity. While this can be executed in a vehicle, it can also be performed by a person following you into a building which has restricted access.
Quizzes and Surveys
Using seemingly innocent online quizzes or surveys to gather personal information from users that can be later used for malicious purposes. These surveys were once extremely popular on Facebook, and a variety of people/businesses could get lots of information from you just because you wanted to know what fairytale princess you were the most like.
Related: How to Identify Scam Stablecoins
How to Avoid Social Engineering Scams
Preventing yourself from becoming a victim of social engineering scams requires a combination of awareness, skepticism, and good security practices. Here are some essential tips to help protect yourself:
Always question unsolicited requests for sensitive information, whether they come via email, phone, or in person. Verify the identity of the person or organization making the request before sharing any personal information or performing actions.
It is a good idea to give a company a call whenever you get a suspicious email. For example, if your bank emails you saying your account has been hacked, don’t click on anything and instead head to the bank website and call the number you see there for more information.
Stay informed about the various social engineering tactics used by scammers. Knowledge is your first line of defense against these scams. New scams are constantly being developed, so keep an eye on the news for any scams you may not be aware of.
Use Strong Passwords
Create strong, unique passwords for all your online accounts, and avoid using the same password across multiple platforms. Consider using a password manager to help generate and manage complex passwords.
Enable Multi-Factor Authentication (MFA)
Whenever possible, enable MFA or 2FA for your accounts. This adds an extra layer of security, making it harder for attackers to access your accounts even if they obtain your password.
Don't Click on Suspicious Links
Avoid clicking on links in emails or messages from unknown sources. Hover over links to see the actual URL before clicking on them. Be cautious of shortened URLs and always verify the legitimacy of the sender.
Keep Software Updated
Regularly update your operating system, applications, and antivirus software to protect against known vulnerabilities. Old software is especially susceptible to hacks and exploitation.
Secure Personal Information
Be cautious about sharing personal information on social media or websites, especially sensitive details like your address, phone number, or financial information. Never, ever send anyone your bank account or social security number unless you are 100% sure you are talking to the person you think you are.
For example, if your mom texts and asks for your social, call her immediately and verify it is her before providing any information.
If you're part of an organization, implement regular cybersecurity training and awareness programs for all employees to recognize and respond to social engineering attempts.
Be Cautious with Downloads
Avoid downloading files or software from untrustworthy sources and be wary of opening email attachments from unknown senders. There are many websites which can be used to tell you if a download is legit or may contain a virus.
Question Unusual Requests
Be suspicious of requests that deviate from normal procedures or appear out of the ordinary. Confirm them through alternative means before proceeding. If anything seems off, it probably is, especially if they ask you to send payment in Bitcoin, or another cryptocurrency.
Report Suspicious Activity
If you suspect that you have been targeted or encountered a social engineering attempt, report it to the relevant authorities or your organization's IT/security team.
Overall, social engineering scams can be difficult to avoid, and they are often very prevalent in the cryptocurrency world. But if you educate yourself and your employees, it is much less likely that you or someone you know will become victim of a social engineering scam.
Related: Facebook and the Social Casino Scam