What is Social Engineering: How it Works, Types, and Examples

what is social engineering how it works types and examples.

What is Social Engineering: How it Works, Types, and Examples

What is Social Engineering

People who have seen the movie Who Am I must have heard of the term social engineering in the film, but unfortunately most of them do not know the meaning of the term very clearly. For that, let's find out what social engineering is and how it works, types, and examples.

Also Read: What is Privilege Escalation?


1. What is Social Engineering?

2. How Social Engineering Works

3. Types of Social Engineering

4. Examples of Social Engineering

5. How to Protect From Social Engineering

6. Education

7. Beware of the Information You Release

8. Make sure to protect the right assets

9. Implementing and Following Policies

10. Penetration Testing

11. Multifactor Authentication

12. Always Update Software

13. Conclusion

What is Social Engineering?

Social engineering is a manipulation technique that exploits human error to gain personal information, access, or valuables. Social engineering, in the world of information security, is a type of cyber attack that works to make people better off through deception and deception rather than technological exploitation.

These attacks exploit human vulnerabilities such as emotions, beliefs, or habits to convince individuals to take actions such as clicking on fake links or visiting malicious websites. While less sophisticated than other cyber attack strategies, social engineering can have severe consequences and can often become a weapon for major attacks.

How Social Engineering Works

Unlike viruses which rely on hacking techniques or malicious code to deliver payloads, social engineering relies on human psychology. If used properly, it can be leveraged to gain access to data, systems and even other valuable information.

For example, instead of spending months creating new types of malware, hackers are focusing their attention on tricking employees into leaking their passwords over the phone by posing as IT support technicians. If they talk to the right people and say the right things, they can be directly connected to the network.

The security of your network is only as strong as its weakest link. The same goes for your workforce. Hackers usually use a number of different techniques to find the weakest links, namely techniques that focus on our fears, our likes and dislikes, and our weaknesses.

Types of Social Engineering

Almost every type of cybersecurity attack involves some kind of social engineering. Social engineering can influence you digitally through mobile attacks in addition to desktop devices. However, you can easily be faced with a direct threat. These attacks can overlap and overlay one another to create fraud. Here are some types of social engineering that hackers often use:

  * Baiting – Attackers perform baiting attacks when they leave a malware-infected device, such as a USB flash drive, in a place where someone would find it. It depends on our innate curiosity, someone is likely to load the device onto their device and they end up carrying malware.

  * Phishing – Phishing occurs when an attacker makes fraudulent communications with a victim that appears legitimate and secure. Recipients are then tricked into installing malware on their devices or sharing personal, financial, or business information.

  * Pretexting – Pretexting occurs when an attacker creates a fake state to force the victim to grant access to sensitive data or protected systems.

  * Quid pro quo – A quid pro quo attack occurs when an attacker requests personal information from someone in exchange for something or some type of compensation.

  * Spear Phishing – Spear phishing is a type of highly targeted phishing attack that focuses on a specific individual or organization. Spear phishing attacks use personal information that is specific to the recipient to gain trust and appear more legitimate. Often this information is taken from the victim's social media accounts or other online activities.

  * Tailgating – Tailgating is a psychological manipulation technique that occurs when an unauthorized individual follows an authorized individual to a previously safe location. The purpose of tailgating is to obtain valuable confidential property or information.

Example of Social Engineering

Social engineering occurs because of the instinct of human trust. Cybercriminals have learned that carefully crafted email, voicemail, or text messages can convince people to transfer money, provide confidential information, or download files that have malware installed on them.

Check out this Spear Phishing example that convinced an employee to transfer 100 Million to a foreign investor:

 1. Thanks to careful spear phishing research, cybercriminals know that the CEO of a company is on the move.

 2. Emails sent to company employees that appear to be from the CEO. There is a slight difference in the email addresses – but the CEO's name is spelled correctly.

 3. In the email, the employee is asked to help the CEO by transferring 100 Million to a new foreign investor. The email uses urgent but friendly language, reassuring the employee that he or she will help the CEO and the company.

 4. The email emphasizes that the CEO will make this transfer himself but because he is traveling, he cannot make the transfer of funds in time to secure the foreign investment partnership.

5. Without verifying the details, the employee decides to act. He truly believes that he is helping the CEO, the company, and his colleagues by fulfilling email requests.

 6. A few days later, the victimized employees, CEOs, and company partners realized that they had fallen victim to a social engineering attack and had lost 100 Million.

How to Protect From Social Engineering


Ignorance is our greatest weakness as humans and it is very easy to exploit, making the uneducated a prime target for attackers. You must make all employees aware of the risks and be aware of social engineering techniques.

Beware of the Information You Release

This includes verbal and social media. Sites like Facebook and Twitter are a wealth of information and resources, from images to playable interests. A simple Google maps search of your home or work address gives criminals information about your place and its surroundings.

Ensure Protecting the Right Assets

Make sure you protect the right thing! When deciding which assets are most valuable to an attacker, make sure not to focus solely on what you or your business think is most valuable. Cyber ​​attackers are interested in anything they can come up with.

Implementing And Following Policies

After identifying which assets are most tempting to attackers, and which they might use to target them, write a security policy and follow it! In a business context, all employees need to play their part. Everyone is a potential entry point into the business and its assets. It only takes one door to open for an attacker to gain access.

Penetration Testing

Once you've implemented the policy, it's time to test it. Sending malicious email under test conditions to a group of users or observing how employees access a building can give you a good idea of ​​whether policies are being followed.

Also Read: What Is Penetration Testing: Stages And Methods

Multifactor Authentication

Improving the way your users access systems and data can help avoid social engineering attacks. Combining passwords with biometrics, for example, is one way multifactor authentication can beat criminals at their own game.

Always Update Software

Attackers who use psychological manipulation techniques often find out if you are running unpatched and out-of-date software. Keeping track of patches and updating your software can reduce most of these risks.


So what is social engineering? Social engineering is a technique aimed at persuading a target to disclose certain information or take certain actions for illegitimate reasons.

Protection against social engineering begins with education. For example, if all employees are aware of the threat, the company's security will increase. Be sure to raise awareness of these risks by sharing what you've learned. Because prevention is always better than cure

Hopefully, this article about What is Social Engineering: How it Works, Types, and Examples, gives you a little insight. Also, read an article about What Is Spyware And How Does It Work? that you may need to know. Thank you.

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