Innovation in technology made hackers invent new techniques of social engineering attacks. Therefore, they invent pretexting attacks, which is a specific type of social engineering technique. It focuses on creating a fabricated scenario to scam victims. However, there are one more technique hackers use, which is called pretexting.
A lot of users and organizations are getting ripped off by pretexting techniques. Pretexting is being used by a lot of hackers to steal the personal data of the victim for their own benefit. During the pretexting attack, the hackers ask the victim for different information to confirm their identity so that they can use that information for identity theft or other data frauds.
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There are a lot of users who have already been fooled by the pretexting attack. It is only because they did not know anything about pretexting and how to prevent pretexting attacks. In the blog, we have explained pretexting and how it can be prevented.
Pretexting is a type of social engineering attack in which the victim is manipulated by revealing information. A hacker creates a pretext with a scenario that targets a specific user or employee to steal personal information.
The pretexting attack is mostly made with the help of a story that the scammer builds. So, they emotionally play with the victim’s mind and get the required information. It is not necessary that the pretexting be done only through email. It includes other modes as well, like text messages and phone calls.
The message you will receive from the scammer will be a call-to-action link where you will have to open the link and fill in the required information. The link is a dummy designed to look like an application. It prompts you to sign up, and once the details are filled in, those credentials are used.
Pretexting Attack Example
In July 2020, pretexters convinced Twitter employees to provide account details over the phone, which allowed attackers to take over 130 Twitter accounts, including Barak Obama and Kanye West. Before Twitter took down the posts, hackers had raised $110,000 by tweeting requests for donations to a bitcoin wallet. This Twitter breach is an example of how nobody is secure on the network.
What are Pretexting Attack Techniques?
The scammers use different pretexting techniques to gain the trust of the victim to convince them of the required data.
Many phishing attempts rely on pretexting tactics, which are a key component of spoofing an email address. However, they do not necessarily require much attention to detail. They try to get your data via emails or text messages to obtain sensitive information such as card details, card numbers, passwords, etc. Phishing is another category in cybersecurity and usually occurs via email.
Most cyber attacks involve the impersonation of some scenario or person. Here, a scammer will pose as a trusted source, such as a friend, colleague, or company. They will make up a story that looks convincing and ask for sensitive data. With scams, there are many possibilities because the victims are not able to distinguish between the real scammers because they are scammed again and again by the scammers.
Tailgating is another technique used in pretexting that enables the scammer to gain physical access to facilities. It is a common technique to follow authorized personnel into their company or someplace without being noticed. The scammer will closely follow the authorized person and will stick to him for getting entry to some place where outsiders are not allowed.
Piggybacking is another similar technique to tailgating. In this technique, some people will claim and ask for help to get into an authorized place because they have forgotten their ID card at the building. Therefore, the authorized personnel will also help the individual who is asking to piggyback off the credentials. By doing so, they get access.
Trapping the victim with a promise to lure them into a trap is done mainly in a baiting attack. Hackers will make flash drives that will be labeled with something that gives them an authentic look, such as the official company logo. They do this to add authenticity to the product so that users can buy it. These types of products are mostly placed near bus stations, railroads, bathrooms, markets, etc.
When the user bought and inserts it into their system, then the malicious software which was injected into the flash drive will affect the system and steal the data. Baiting attacks can be performed online too by injecting the code into pop-up ads and other websites.
The scareware attack uses fictional threats and false alarms to confuse users. That their system is infected with malicious software, and they need to install the software to fix it. Victims get curious and install the software, which scammers use to steal credentials. It is deployed through spam emails with titles containing fake warnings.
How to Prevent Pretexting Attacks?
The main reason why pretexting is increasing day by day is the user’s knowledge. They do not have sufficient knowledge to protect themselves. We have mentioned some of the methods below that you should follow to prevent pretexting attacks.
Pretexting is complicated and constantly evolving. The most popular pretexting techniques, spoofing, and deception lead to data breaches and cost organizations millions of dollars in fraudulent transactions. Look for layered email security that covers the wide range of strategies malicious actors use to try to impersonate trusted users and outlets.
Never Share Personal Details
A lot of scammers act as some kind of employee of the bank or some other institution and try to ask you about details like card number, expiry date, amount, name, and other personal details. So, if anyone is asking you the same, then be aware, because the bank or any institution will never ask you for such details.
Employ Email Authentication Protocols
The three main email authentication protocols are DMARC, SPF, and DKIM. These protocols help protect the email domain from spam and spoofing. They secure your domain and can prevent fraudsters from using your real domain name for your outbound email platform. They also increase deliverability and access rates for your domain. Implement these email authentication protocols with a comprehensive suite, such as TDMARC.
It is very important for the company and employees to be aware of pretext attacks. Many companies do not give proper cybersecurity training and education to their employees, resulting in huge losses. Many companies do not have proper security training, which can cause them a lot of trouble. Therefore, by implementing a tool like TSAT, employees can be provided with proper security knowledge.
Final Thoughts: Pretexting Attack
To protect yourself from pretexting attack, it’s necessary for you to have every knowledge about it. It is essential to protect your organization from such attacks. Security awareness training for employees is essential for protecting against it.
Pretexting attacks aim to exploit trust in order to induce particular behaviors, so it’s crucial to inform employees about such practices. It is vital to implement the best cybersecurity practices for your organization. There are lots of important insights that CIOs and CISOs need to have, to ensure that their organization is safe and sound.
FAQs: Pretexting Attack
To prevent pretexting, an individual or organization should avoid sharing personal information with unknown sources. Also, organizations should implement cybersecurity practices and tools, as a wall against those cyber attacks.
The attack that is done by the mode of communication of voice phone calls can be said as pretexting calling. Pretexting is also a crucial component of vishing, which is basically phishing through phone calls. It is a portmanteau of the words “voice” and “phishing.”
One of the most common pretexting examples is that the scammer will act as your senior employee and will ask you for some details or money.
Some techniques for pretexting attacks are
4. Scareware, and more.