The types of social engineering tactics used by scammers

engineering tactics
engineering tactics

Hackers and scammers use sophisticated techniques to conduct cyberattacks. With each passing year, the number of cyberattacks on organizations and businesses continues to rise. No matter what the scale of a company, no one is immune to a cyberattack. Small-, medium-, and large-scale companies all face the threat of cyberattack. 

Cyberattacks are devastating for a company’s reputation. Customers lose trust in a company, and it can be difficult for a business to retain customers. They can make it hard for companies to bounce back after a cyberattack. Small companies are more likely to go out of business in the aftermath of a cyberattack. Apart from this, organizations have to bear financial losses as well.

Companies are investing more in cybersecurity measures. However, more needs to be done since hackers novel techniques to conduct cyberattacks. In addition to this, many companies have poor practices when it comes to network and application safety. Another reason why businesses become a common target of cybercriminals is because of a lack of employee training. Companies tend to suffer as a result of employee negligence because it leads to cyberattacks. Hence, companies must invest in ransomware removal services.

Here are a few cybersecurity statistics and facts to provide you some perspective:

  • According to Google, there are over two million phishing sites on the web.
  • 94% of malicious software is sent through email. 
  • Healthcare facilities faced losses of $7.13 million due to data breaches. 
  • 43% of cyber attacks are aimed at small businesses.
  • According to Ponemon, the cost of a cyberattack is $5 million. 

What is a Ransomware Attack?

Ransomware is the most common cyberattack that organizations face. It involves a hacker injecting malicious software into a system and blocking access to it. They then proceed to ask for a ransom in exchange for access to sensitive and private data. Once the ransom amount is paid, the hacker will provide access to the data.

In the US, the year 2019 was when 996 government agencies, educational institutions, and healthcare facilities faced ransomware attacks. It led to a loss of $7.5 billion. Cyberattacks like these disrupt everyday processes. In extreme cases, it puts the lives of individuals at risk. For instance, cyberattacks against healthcare facilities led to emergency patients being redirected elsewhere. Hence, essential care during the critical condition of patients could not be given. In addition to this, surveillance services were down for a while. 

Here are a few ransomware statistics:

  • In the US, ransomware led to a loss of $915 million in 2020. 
  • The average ransomware payment was around $154,108 in the last quarter of 2020. 
  • Two out of every five SMBs (small-to-medium businesses) have been a victim of a ransomware attack. 
  • The main cause of a ransomware attack is a weak password, phishing emails, and lack of awareness. 

Ransomware attacks often make use of social engineering techniques to benefit from vulnerabilities in human behavior.

What is Social Engineering?

Social engineering involves techniques used to manipulate the behavior of an individual. Cybercriminals use social engineering to lure people into downloading malicious software on their phones, laptops, and other devices. The victim unknowingly downloads the software that leads to a cyberattack. It can lead to the theft of private data. A hacker may prevent access to your system and data. In other cases, a hacker may secretly collect information.

Email scams involve social engineering. An unsuspecting person may open an email thinking it is from a friend. The email may ask them to download an attachment or click a link. Either way, it leads to a virus infecting your system.

According to a research paper, social engineering involves four phases. These are as follows:

  • Gathering information: This stage involves gathering information that is specific to the target.
  • Developing a relationship: This stage involves developing a relationship with the target through email and telephone calls.
  • Exploitation: This stage involves benefiting from the relationship with the target to infiltrate a system.
  • Implementation: This stage is when the hacker fulfills the purpose of the cyberattack.

The following are some social engineering techniques: 

1: Phishing

Phishing is one of the most common tactics used by scammers to conduct a cyberattack. A scammer sends emails to people posing as an individual from a reputable company or a friend.

Here are a few ways to circumvent a phishing attempt:

  • Check the email address of the sender. Only open an email if it is from a reliable source. Otherwise, delete it.
  • 3Do not click a click that you are unsure of. Likewise, do not download files that are not from known email addresses. 
  • Use reliable anti-virus software to detect any viruses or malicious software that may be present on your system.
  • Avoid connecting to public Wi-Fi since it is unsecured. Hackers often find access to systems through public Wi-FI.
  • Do not share email addresses and passwords through email, even if it is someone you know.
  • Avoid opening links to web pages that you receive via SMS and text messages.  

2: Baiting 

Another technique used by scammers is to lure the victim by pretending to exchange information with them. However, the “data” that the scammer shares is malicious software that may cause the system to crash. In this case, the hacker benefits from human error.

3: Vishing

Voice phishing, known as vishing for short, is a ransomware attack where the hacker contacts a person through the telephone. Through vishing, a hacker may persuade you to provide access to sensitive data. The hacker would probably have performed a background check and done prior research before calling the unsuspecting individual. They may also create a sense of urgency so that the victim feels compelled to provide valuable information. Hence, a hacker exploits human behavior and forces them to provide information, such as full name, email address, passwords, etc. Sometimes, a hacker may target an employee of a company to collect information. They may pose as a person from a law enforcement agency. In other cases, they may pose as a customer.


Ransomware attacks are unique because they exploit human behavior. Social engineering is a tactic that hackers and scammers use to trick people. Organizations have suffered heavily from such attacks. Hence, they need to invest in cybersecurity measures. Most importantly, they must train their staff against such attacks.