Social engineering is the art of tricking people into offering up private and sensitive information. Once scammers have personal information, they can steal identities, use passwords, and even empty bank accounts.
Social engineers work by playing on human weaknesses – such as trust, greed, compassion, curiosity or fear. Scams will often come in the form of emails, letters or phone calls asking for “more information”, or requesting money for someone “in danger”. They often appear to come from legitimate sources, or in the case of emails, from your existing contacts.
So how can you guard against online scams?
- Don’t respond to emails asking for financial information or passwords, even if they appear to come from legitimate companies.
- Make sure any donations you make are to registered charities.
- Use caution when it comes to opening links on emails.
- Never respond to offers of big lottery wins or inheritances.
- Practice good cyber security – including regularly changing passwords, browsing secure sites only, installing anti-virus programs, and keeping your operating system updated.
If you do experience online social engineering, report it to your IT provider. You should also consider Cyber Insurance cover as it financially protects you against online attacks, system failures and loss of data or equipment.