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Social engineering

Social engineering definition

Social engineering is a psychological manipulation technique that cybercriminals use to get people to give away confidential information or perform a certain action. Trust, stress, and greed are natural feelings that social engineers use against people to cloud their judgment.

Social engineering attack cycle

  • Preparation. The attacker gathers data on their target.
  • Infiltration. The attacker initiates contact with their victim, establishes a relationship, and begins to build trust.
  • Exploitation. Once the relationship is strong enough, the attacker makes their move — asks for money, installs malware, steals login credentials, or performs some other action.
  • Disengaging. After the attacker gets what they want, they will cut off all communication and disappear.

How to protect yourself from social engineering attacks

  • Educate yourself on different methods cybercriminals use to trick people.
  • Check the identity of anyone who’s contacted you online — even double-check with your friends or coworkers if their request seems out of the ordinary.
  • Limit the information you share about yourself and your work online.
  • Use a VPN to improve your security and privacy online.
  • Use additional security software to stay safe online — like NordVPN’s Threat Protection Pro feature.