Data breaches at various companies are a frequent and unfortunate trend in today's society. Important and confidential personal data is often made public and exploited by hackers and malicious actors.
The latest trend in data breaches
When hearing about hacker attacks and malware, many people may think of the portrayal of hackers in Hollywood movies. They sit around coding and doing a lot of technical work to break into software.
But that's not necessarily what the world looks like for a hacker. Many hackers resort to social engineering as their go-to method for infiltrating systems and software programs. Social engineering is more about the human psyche and how to get people to follow directions than it is about hacking.
Hackers can often be convincing when they are phishing. If they can't make people believe that they are legitimate senders, they will never lure them into the phishing trap. In other words, hackers exploit the person behind the screen and not the machine they are sitting at.
This is a good reminder that hacking and the cyber threat are constantly changing, and the methods hackers use are also changing. Hackers typically target humans rather than machines.
The human error
Hackers use social engineering that targets the human victims. They have realized that humans are easier to fool than computer systems, so they have designed different hacking methods for this very purpose.
One of the most well-known and popular hacking methods where hackers use social engineering is phishing. In phishing, the hacker pretends to be another person, often known to the victim.
When the victim knows the person the hacker is impersonating, they will automatically trust them more. When the sender is trusted, people are more likely to do what they say in the email - this could be downloading documents, clicking on links, or calling a phone number.
All these cases will give the hacker access to install malware on your device or access your data. Once they have the data, they can make money by either selling it on the dark web or launching ransomware attacks where they hold your data hostage.
Another popular method hackers use is SIM swapping. Here, the hacker calls the victim's telecom company and pretends to be the victim. The hacker will claim, for example, that the victim's phone has been stolen or has otherwise lost the SIM card in the phone. In this way, the phone number belonging to the victim is transferred to a new SIM card, which the hacker gains access to.
The problem with this is that the hacker gains access to the two-factor authentication that is sent when logging in to, for example, online banking or other important websites.
Once the hacker gets access to them, they can break into the victim's personal data and bank accounts and log into the different accounts.
The last popular type of hacking is MFA bombing. In this type of hacking, the victim is bombarded with push notifications from a multi-factor authentication. The hacker contacts the victim and claims that they are from the company sending the notifications - and that it's a mistake that so many notifications are coming in. They will then say that the flow of messages will stop if you just tap on one of them and accept it.
As soon as you accept one of the multi-factor authentications, the hacker has access to your information and important apps.
This is just a sample of the different ways hackers use social engineering, to give you an idea of how hacking might look.
Why use social engineering?
Social engineering is both effective and requires less effort on the hacker's part. Below are some examples of why hackers use this form of hacking:
It doesn't take much work to phish. The hacker can sit comfortably at home and send phishing emails to millions of people and just wait for someone to take the bait. They don't have to sit and code for a long time to see results.
Many people are tired and don't think about what they press. Many people have busy lives that can make them tired and stressed. When you're tired, you often don't pay particular attention to what you're pressing. The hacker uses this to his advantage.
Social media helps the hacker. With social media, it has become easier for hackers to find information they can use to launch attacks. If they target a victim, they can use the information they find on social media to their advantage.
As technology and hacking methods innovate and become more advanced, hackers are becoming more adept at mimicry and better at impersonating other people. This makes it even easier for them to lure people into the phishing trap.
How to solve the hacking problem?
You can't prevent hacking attacks completely, as there will always be some hackers who can penetrate cyber defenses. And as hackers become more skilled, it becomes harder to prevent attacks.
However, there is one essential measure you can include in your everyday life to prevent hacking attacks:
- Focus on the people. This is one of the most important things you can work with to prevent attacks. As described above, it is human error that allows hackers to penetrate systems.
Therefore, it is a good investment to undergo awareness training. This creates awareness of the hackers' methods, what to look for to avoid phishing, and what security measures you can put in place to increase cybersecurity.
It's all the little holes that give the hacker access into the systems. If you can close them, you can keep the hacker out.
Caroline is a copywriter here at Moxso beside her education. She is doing her Master's in English and specializes in translation and the psychology of language. Both fields deal with communication between people and how to create a common understanding - these elements are incorporated into the copywriting work she does here at Moxso.View all posts by Caroline Preisler