Social engineering is a prevalent attack vector in cybersecurity that exploits human vulnerabilities to gain unauthorized access to systems and data [3]. It involves manipulating people through deception [3], persuasion [3], and manipulation to divulge confidential information or perform actions against their best interests [3]. This highly effective method in cybersecurity is rooted in the intricate dance between the attacker’s mind and human psychology [4].


A webinar titled “Think Like a Hacker [4], Defend Like a Pro” explores the significance of social engineering as a weapon for cyber attackers and delves into its roots in human psychology. Led by Tim Chase [4], a 20-year veteran in information security [4], the session offers expert insights and practical knowledge on social engineering as a major threat in cybersecurity [4]. The goal of the webinar is to empower individuals with the knowledge to protect their organizations from these cunning threats [4].

Social engineering tactics target the weakest link in an organization rather than trying to breach strong cyber defenses [3]. Throughout history [3], these tactics have been used to exploit vulnerabilities in judgment [3], trust [1] [3], and perception [3]. With the rise of technology [3], social engineering techniques have become more refined and widespread [3]. Phishing emails [3], vishing calls [3], baiting [1] [3] [5], pretexting [1] [3] [5], and tailgating are some common tactics used by social engineers [3]. This poses a significant threat to the digital economy [3], as it undermines trust in companies to protect data and transactions [3]. It also leads to financial fraud and makes it harder for law enforcement to bust cybercrime [3].

To protect against social engineering [3], organizations should keep software updated [3], implement the least privilege principle [3], conduct training exercises [3], develop communication guidelines [3], promote a vigilant culture [3], enable multi-factor authentication [1] [3], limit personal information access [1] [3], and audit and penalize violations [3]. Partnering with IT service providers can also add an extra layer of protection [5]. Recognizing red flags [1] [5], such as urgency or emotional manipulation [1], is crucial in defending against social engineering attacks. Phishing involves fraudulent emails that appear legitimate [1], while pretexting creates false scenarios to gain trust [1]. Baiting entices individuals with tempting offers that come with hidden costs [1]. Practical defenses include educating oneself about the risks [1], verifying requests [1], exercising caution with links and downloads [1], using strong passwords and security software [1], and enabling two-factor authentication [1].


Social engineering poses a significant threat to cybersecurity [2] [3] [4], undermining trust and leading to financial fraud. It is crucial for organizations to implement effective measures to protect against these cunning threats. By keeping software updated [3], conducting training exercises [3], and promoting a vigilant culture, organizations can strengthen their defenses. Recognizing red flags and using practical defenses, such as verifying requests and exercising caution with links and downloads [1], can also help individuals and organizations defend against social engineering attacks. The ever-present threat of social engineering requires ongoing vigilance and the adoption of robust security measures to safeguard against its impacts.