You may have heard about a data theft technique known as “phishing.” This is just the most common form of a larger attack type (normally called “social engineering hacks“). Techniques like phishing rely on their ability to trick the user into giving up sensitive information by imitating legitimate users and sites. Such techniques work by exploiting the human factor, which is generally the easiest target. The human element also matters a lot when it comes to cybersecurity response, and we will discuss that matter as well. Overall, human behavior can play a very large role in cybersecurity.
The Social Engineering Factor
As we said, social engineering attacks work by tricking people into giving up things like login names, passwords, PIN numbers, and all sorts of other private info. They normally do this through elaborate deceptions and stories. These are designed to make you feel like you are giving this information to a legitimate entity for a legitimate reason. The key to avoiding these tricks is to recognize them quickly.
It’s worth noting that almost 1.5 million phishing sites are created every month, if these statistics are accurate. Once a person has become familiar with the various types of social engineering, the telltale warning signs will be much easier to recognize. With continued education and training, those danger-senses can be honed a lot sharper. To help you get started, let’s look at the various types of phishing attacks.
- Email Phishing: This involves the use of a phony email containing a malicious link. This link will normally go to a phishing site, where a keylogger can capture any data that you input.
- SMS Phishing: This works pretty much exactly like email phishing, except that the malicious link is contained in a spoofed text message.
- Vishing: This is a method that uses voice/video chat rather than text-based communication. The basic premise is the same: Trick the user into giving up sensitive information. Sometimes, they will even try to impersonate your friends, family, or colleagues for this purpose.
- Search Engine Phishing: Instead of using a malicious link to direct you to a malware site, this method uses spoofed search engines to lead you into the trap. By tracking your searches, they can lead you to a phishing site without anything appearing to be obviously wrong.
- Spear Phishing: The main difference between spear phishing and normal phishing is this: Normal phishing is broad in scope, targeting many people at once. Spear-phishing, on the other hand, is tailored to one specific victim.
The Response Factor
The other crucial human factor in cybersecurity relates to the way in which your organization responds to cyber attacks. Quick and decisive action can often keep a bad situation from becoming far worse. For instance, most people should know to shut down everything once a cyber attack has been detected. That means all devices on the current network. From here, the competence of your IT response can make a big difference.
For instance, a less-savvy professional will just delete the suspected malware, mitigate whatever damage can be fixed, and go on as if nothing happened. A more intelligent IT person, however, will seek to compartmentalize and segregate the network before going online again. The point is to keep the attackers from having an opportunity to do more damage. If they are still tracking your actions, your efforts to defeat an attack will be for naught.
Coordination is a key factor here, as large organizations need to respond in unison when a problem is detected. Further, there must be a definite chain of command so that everyone knows what to do and when to do it. Ideally, you should have two quick-response teams: One to monitor the network and cut off any further attacks and another to assess and identify the threat. The first team is basically standing guard while the second team works to find out what went wrong. Once they figure out what happened, a plan of action can easily be made.
Training And Education Are Essential
It would be hard to overstate the importance of proper training and education. To explain the difference: Education is the imparting of information to the student. Training, on the other hand, is where the student learns to use that information in a practical way. Training is also intended to provide a quick response via repetition. Both of these things are essential for cybersecurity.
Ideas For The Future
There is no doubt that the human factor remains the most vulnerable aspect of any network. In order to address this issue, we think a new approach is needed. While education of network users will surely help, we don’t think that’s quite enough. Education alone will never solve this problem. We think the most promising solution lies in one word: Visibility. Statistics indicate that most people cannot identify a well-made phishing attempt. That is the root of the problem, and that is what must change.
On most networks, the average user has no idea of what is going on “behind the scenes” (meaning “behind the graphical operating system that they are using”). Tools that are related to network monitoring and security status are normally reserved for IT staff and senior executives. However, if every network user had a sufficient degree of security visibility (i.e., metrics that they can easily check) through the use of specialized software, it would be much easier for the average user to avoid falling prey to a social engineering attack.
If you want to learn more about the importance of humans in cybersecurity, feel free to call PCH Technologies at (856) 754-7500. We offer the best IT services in New Jersey, and the best managed IT support services in general. Not only that, but we also offer comprehensive training courses that will help to keep you and your entire organization safe. With so much to lose, you cannot afford to wait until an incident has occurred.