Social Engineering in Cybersecurity: What It Is, How It Works, and How to Protect Yourself

Social Engineering in Cybersecurity: What It Is, How It Works, and How to Protect Yourself

Social Engineering in Cybersecurity: What It Is, How It Works, and How to Protect Yourself


Social engineering is a type of cyber attack that manipulates people into revealing confidential information or performing actions that compromise security. Social engineering attacks are often successful because they exploit human psychology, such as our desire to be helpful, our trust in authority figures, or our fear of loss.

Social engineering attacks can be carried out in a variety of ways, including:

  • Phishing: Phishing is a type of social engineering attack that involves sending fraudulent emails or text messages that appear to be from a legitimate source. Phishing attacks often try to trick people into clicking on a malicious link or opening an infected attachment.
  • Baiting: Baiting is a type of social engineering attack that involves leaving physical devices, such as USB drives or CDs, in public places. Baiting attacks often try to trick people into plugging the devices into their computers, which can then infect their computers with malware.
  • Pretexting: Pretexting is a type of social engineering attack that involves posing as someone else in order to gain access to confidential information. Pretexting attacks often involve impersonating authority figures, such as law enforcement officers or bank representatives.
  • Quid pro quo: Quid pro quo is a type of social engineering attack that involves offering something in exchange for confidential information or access. Quid pro quo attacks often involve offering technical support or help with a task.
  • Tailgating: Tailgating is a type of social engineering attack that involves following someone into a secure area without authorization. Tailgating attacks are often carried out in office buildings and other restricted areas.

Impact of Social Engineering

Social engineering attacks can have a devastating impact on individuals and organizations. Social engineering attacks can lead to:

  • Identity theft: Social engineering attacks can be used to steal personal information, such as Social Security numbers, credit card numbers, and bank account numbers. This information can then be used to commit identity theft, such as opening fraudulent accounts or making unauthorized purchases.
  • Data breaches: Social engineering attacks can be used to gain access to sensitive data, such as customer records, financial data, and trade secrets. This data can then be sold to third parties or used for other malicious purposes.
  • Financial losses: Social engineering attacks can lead to direct financial losses, such as through fraudulent transactions or ransom payments.
  • Damage to reputation: Social engineering attacks can damage an organization’s reputation, leading to lost customers and revenue.

Examples of Social Engineering Attacks

Here are a few examples of social engineering attacks:

  • A phishing email that appears to be from a bank asking for your Social Security number and credit card number.
  • A USB drive found on the ground that contains malware.
  • A phone call from someone claiming to be from the Internal Revenue Service threatening you with arrest if you don’t pay a tax debt.
  • A technical support representative asks for your password in order to help you with a computer problem.
  • A stranger asks you to hold their badge while they open a door, giving them access to a secure area.

How to Protect Yourself from Social Engineering Attacks

There are a number of things you can do to protect yourself from social engineering attacks, such as:

  • Be suspicious of unsolicited emails, text messages, and phone calls.
  • Do not click on links in emails or text messages unless you are sure they are safe.
  • Do not open attachments from unknown senders.
  • Be careful about what information you share online.
  • Be wary of anyone who asks for your personal or financial information, even if they claim to be from a legitimate organization.
  • Use strong passwords and two-factor authentication for all of your online accounts.
  • Keep your software up to date.
  • Report any suspicious activity to the appropriate authorities.


Social engineering is a serious threat to cybersecurity. By understanding how social engineering attacks work and taking steps to protect yourself, you can reduce your risk of becoming a victim.

Additional Tips

  • Educate yourself about social engineering attacks. The more you know about social engineering, the better equipped you will be to spot and avoid attacks.
  • Talk to your family and friends about social engineering attacks. It is important to raise awareness about social engineering so that everyone can take steps to protect themselves.
  • Be mindful of your surroundings. Social engineering attacks can happen anywhere, so it is important to be aware of your surroundings and the people around you.
  • Trust your gut instinct. If something feels wrong, it probably is. Don’t be afraid to say no or walk away from a situation that makes you feel uncomfortable

Dhaval Thakkar

Blogger by Nature and Loves to write and Believe that Anybody Can Write. I am also RedHat Linux Certified and AWS Certified.