Social Engineering

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Contents

Definition

An attack based on deceiving end users or administrators at a target site. Social engineering attacks are are typically carried out by email or by contacting users by phone and impersonating an authorized user, in an attempt to gain unauthorized access to a system or application.

Examples

Example #1:

  • An attacker, posing an a system administrator, sends an email to several users on a large network (like a college campus network) and asks them to, “Please change your password to ‘xyz123’ and then notify me when you've completed this.”
  • The attacker then logs in as one of the users from over the network.
  • System bugs are then exploited to gain complete control of the system.

Countermeasures

  • Educate staff
  • Establish mechanisms for problem reporting and handling and make sure users know what those mechanisms are
  • Identify security-related transactions that must be done in person


Related Attacks

References

Social Engineering [1]