Learn How To Protect Your Users From Themselves
In today’s digital world, it’s all too easy to find yourself the victim of somebody who wanted your password, access to sensitive data, money, or even much more. Unfortunately, a lot of times the culprit had a lot of help. Even more unfortunate is that this help probably came from the victim themselves or an employee working for a company that found itself in some malicious party’s crosshairs. Though most of us would like to think we’re pretty “street smart” when it comes to protecting our physical property, online, it’s essential that you take steps to draw human error out of the equation. By doing this, you will greatly reduce a hacker’s ability to get the data they want.
Social Engineering Is Way Too Effective
In the movies, when a hacker wants to break through a company’s firewall or otherwise go after password-protected information, their fingers tap-dance over a keyboard until the right “code” has been entered and a screen pops up telling them they have access. Other times, they may take out a CD-ROM or thumb drive, which contains some super secret software of their own design capable of cracking the security system that is supposed to be stopping them.
In real life, though, the scenario is usually a lot less exciting. Most of the time, hackers use what’s known as social engineering to get what they need from unsuspecting victims. Social engineering represents a number of different ways someone may try to manipulate others into giving up sensitive information. These tactics may be used to harvest all kinds of data, but usually it’s aimed at passwords. Once a hacker has that, they can go after almost anything else they want.
The main reason hackers now prefer social engineering is simple: it’s much easier. Designing software or coming up with the right code is a highly-technical undertaking. Besides, even if you create the right hacking solution, IT teams all around the world will react ASAP by working to create something more effective for blocking it.
Social engineering, though, relies on human error. You can build all the high-tech defenses you want. At the end of the day, if you’re going to give people passwords to use it, those solutions can still be compromised.
Those who are best at social engineering hardly give their victims time to question what’s going on. They may call an employee, for example, pretending to be a member of the company’s IT team and in the midst of an audit. A lot of times, they’ll have done enough research to know what to say in order to come across as legit. Then, once they’ve proven themselves—without making it obvious that that’s what they were doing—they’ll nonchalantly ask for the info they need.
Sometimes the Easiest Way to Hack a Password Is to Ask for It
Of course, this might seem too simple to work. If you’ve never been the target of social engineering, it can be easy to imagine that it simply wouldn’t work on you. However, consider that InfoSecurity has conducted over a half-dozen surveys that show a large percentage of people will fall for these tricks.
The first time InfoSecurity set out to see how effective social engineering could be, they simply offered people a cheap pen for their passwords and/or other sensitive information related to where they worked. That was it, just a pen.
Since then, they’ve offered all manner of cheap prizes for compromising their employer’s security. Chocolate has been another popular one. In any case, it just goes to show that otherwise well-intentioned people can give away vital information with very little incentive.
In the real world, a hacker won’t simply make a trade though. These surveys simply show how quickly people will drop their defenses. Instead, another popular method is to email you under the auspice of being some kind of authority figure. Again, the hacker may pretend to be someone from your company. They may also say they’re with the government or the security company that makes your privacy software. They’ll tell you your email has been compromised and to click a specific link to reset your password or have your system wiped clean of malware. Unfortunately, that link will actually give them the access they wanted. Worse still, there are plenty of hackers out there who want nothing more than to cause problems. They don’t have the typical target you’d associate with a dollar value. Instead, they’ll be perfectly happy making you upset or being an inconvenience. If you don’t understand that some hackers simply want cheap thrills, it’s easy to get caught unawares.
Single Sign-On, Multi-Factor Authentication, and Password Management Solutions Help to Lessen the Risks
Hopefully it’s clear that you have to protect people from themselves when it comes to things like access. Otherwise, it will only be a matter of time before someone takes advantage of them.
One way you can do this is with SSO (Single Sign-On) software. With SSO, your employees have the ability to log in to all of their daily websites simply by the click of the button. The best part is that all of this is possible without your employees having to ever remember a password thanks to multi-factor authentication.
With MFA (Multi-Factor Authentication) your employees can only log in if they are authenticated via a number of different factors. By providing additional factors to prove an identity, MFA acts an extra layer of security, stopping hackers before they can even gain access to your system.
Businesses have too much to lose these days if their security gets compromised. As we’ve shown, trusting people to keep their access safe is understandable, but not a good idea. Social engineering has made it possible for people with virtually no technical prowess to become very real threats for organizations all over the world.
Don’t risk your company’s future on hoping users will keep hackers at bay. Instead, diminish the risks associated with human error by leveraging the right kind of software.