Avoiding Social Engineering Attacks

Avoiding Social Engineering Attacks


Social Engineering

In a social engineering attack, an attacker uses human interaction to manipulate a person into providing them information. People have a natural tendency to trust. Social engineering attacks attempt to exploit this tendency in order to steal your information. Once the information has been stolen it can be used to commit fraud or identity theft.

Criminals use a variety of social engineering attacks to attempt to steal information, including:

  • Website Spoofing
  • Phishing, Pharming, Vishing
  • Spyware
  • Dumpster Diving

The following sections explain the meaning of these common attacks and provide tips you can use to avoid being a victim.


Website Spoofing

Website spoofing is the act of creating a fake website to mislead individuals into sharing sensitive information. Spoof websites are typically made to look exactly like a legitimate website published by a trusted organization.


Prevention Tips:

  • Pay attention to the web address (URL) of websites. A website may look legitimate, but the URL may have a variation in spelling or use a different domain.
  • If you are suspicious of a website, close it and contact the company directly.
  • Do not click links on social networking sites, pop-up windows, or non-trusted websites. Links can take you to a different website than their labels indicate. Typing an address in your browser is a safer alternative.
  • Only give sensitive information to websites using a secure connection. Verify the web address begins with "https://" (the "s" is for secure) rather than just "http://".
  • Avoid using websites when your browser displays certificate errors or warnings.

Phishing, Pharming, Vishing

Phishing is when an attacker attempts to acquire information by masquerading as a trustworthy entity in an electronic communication. Phishing messages often direct the recipient to a spoof website. Phishing attacks are typically carried out through email, instant messaging, telephone calls, and text messages (SMS).


Vishing is when an attacker calls the victim and persuades them to disclose sensitive information or visit a malicious website to enter sensitive information.


Pharming is a scamming practice in which malicious code is installed on a personal computer or server, misdirecting users to fraudulent Web sites without their knowledge or consent. Pharming has been called "phishing without a lure".


Spyware

Spyware is any technology that aids in gathering information about a person or organization without their knowledge. On the Internet (where it is sometimes called a spybot or tracking software), spyware is programming that is put in someone's computer to secretly gather information about the user and relay it to advertisers or other interested parties. Spyware can get in a computer as a software virus or as the result of installing a new program.


Data collecting programs that are installed with the user's knowledge are not, properly speaking, spyware, if the user fully understands what data is being collected and with whom it is being shared. However, spyware is often installed without the user's consent, as a drive-by download, or as the result of clicking some option in a deceptive pop-up window. Software designed to serve advertising, known as adware, can usually be thought of as spyware as well because it almost invariably includes components for tracking and reporting user information. However, marketing firms object to having their products called "spyware." As a result, McAfee (the Internet security company) and others now refer to such applications as "potentially unwanted programs" (PUP).


The cookie is a well-known mechanism for storing information about an Internet user on their own computer. If a Web site stores information about you in a cookie that you don't know about, the cookie can be considered a form of spyware. Spyware is part of an overall public concern about privacy on the Internet.


Dumpster Diving

In the world of information technology, dumpster diving is a technique used to retrieve information that could be used to carry out an attack on a computer network. Dumpster diving isn't limited to searching through the trash for obvious treasures like access codes or passwords written down on sticky notes. Seemingly innocent information like a phone list, calendar, or organizational chart can be used to assist an attacker using social engineering techniques to gain access to the network.

To prevent dumpster divers from learning anything valuable from your trash, experts recommend that:

Consumers: use a paper shredder to destroy all papers that have personal information.

Business: establish a disposal policy where all paper, including print-outs, is shredded in a cross-cut shredder before being recycled, all storage media is erased, and all staff is educated about the danger of untracked trash.

Prevention Tips:

  • Delete email and text messages that ask you to confirm or provide sensitive information. Legitimate companies don't ask for sensitive information through email or text messages.
  • Beware of visiting website addresses sent to you in an unsolicited message.
  • Even if you feel the message is legitimate, type web addresses into your browser or use bookmarks instead of clicking links contained in messages.
  • Try to independently verify any details given in the message directly with the company.
  • Utilize anti-phishing features available in your email client and/or web browser.
  • Utilize an email SPAM filtering solution to help prevent phishing emails from being delivered.
  • Keep your spyware software up-to-date
  • Avoid clicking on pop-up as they could have a virus
  • Destroy paper documents that have your personal information using a shredder
  • Update your PC security as it is available

Report Fraudulent or Suspicious Activity

Contact us immediately if you suspect you have fallen victim to a social engineering attack and have disclosed information concerning your First Financial Bank accounts.

Visit your local branch location or contact us at 1-800-562-6896 ask for our Electronic Banking Department or email us at abuse@ffb1.com. Note: If using email to contact us, do not include any of your personal information.


Regularly monitoring your account activity is a good way to detect fraudulent activity. If you notice unauthorized transactions under your account, notify First Financial Bank immediately.


Additional Resources

To learn more about information security visit any of the following websites: