Social engineering is the art of exploiting human psychology, rather than technical hacking techniques, to gain access to buildings, systems, or data. Social engineers use various methods to trick or manipulate their targets into revealing sensitive information, clicking on malicious links, or downloading malware. Some of the most popular web applications for social engineering are:
Phishing: Phishing is a technique that involves sending fraudulent emails or text messages that appear to come from legitimate sources, such as banks, companies, or colleagues. The messages often create a sense of urgency, curiosity, or fear in the recipients and urge them to click on a link, open an attachment, or provide personal or financial information. Phishing is one of the most common and effective social engineering attacks[^1^].
Scareware: Scareware is a technique that involves displaying fake warnings or alerts on websites or pop-up windows that claim that the user's device is infected with malware or has some other problem. The user is then prompted to download a fake antivirus software or call a fake tech support number to fix the issue. The fake software or service may then ask for payment, install malware, or steal data from the user[^2^].
Watering holes: Watering holes are a technique that involves compromising a website that is frequently visited by a specific group of users, such as employees of a certain organization or members of a certain community. The attackers then inject malicious code into the website that redirects the visitors to another site that hosts malware or exploits vulnerabilities in their browsers or plugins[^2^].
Whaling attack: Whaling attack is a technique that involves targeting high-profile individuals, such as executives, celebrities, or politicians, with personalized and convincing phishing emails. The attackers often research their targets extensively and use spoofed email addresses, logos, signatures, or other details to make the emails look authentic. The goal of whaling attacks is to obtain confidential information, access credentials, money transfers, or other favors from the targets[^2^].
Cache poisoning or DNS spoofing: Cache poisoning or DNS spoofing is a technique that involves tampering with the Domain Name System (DNS) records of a website or server. DNS is a system that translates domain names (such as www.example.com) into IP addresses (such as 192.168.0.1) that computers use to communicate over the internet. By altering the DNS records of a website or server, the attackers can redirect users to a fake or malicious site that looks identical to the original one[^2^].
Pretexting: Pretexting is a technique that involves creating a false scenario or identity to obtain information or access from a target. The attackers often pretend to be someone else, such as a customer service representative, a law enforcement officer, a job applicant, or a friend. They then use social skills and persuasion to build trust and rapport with the target and ask them questions that reveal personal or organizational information[^3^].
Baiting and quid pro quo attacks: Baiting and quid pro quo attacks are techniques that involve offering something desirable or valuable to the target in exchange for information or action. For example, baiting may involve leaving a USB drive with malware on it in a public place and labeling it as something enticing, such as \"confidential\" or \"salary list\". Quid pro quo may involve calling random numbers and offering free technical support or software updates in return for access credentials or remote control of the user's device[^3^].
Physical breaches and tailgating: Physical breaches and tailgating are techniques that involve gaining physical access to restricted areas or devices by following someone who has authorized access (tailgating) or by using fake badges, uniforms, tools, or locks (physical breaches). Once inside, the attackers can steal data, install malware, plant devices, sabotage equipment, or perform other malicious actions[^3^].
Social engineering attacks can cause significant damage to individuals and organizations by compromising their security, privacy, reputation, finances, or operations. Therefore, it is important to be aware of these techniques and how to prevent them by following best practices such as ec8f644aee