A Quid Pro Quo attack is a type of social engineering attack like phishing, baiting, tailgating, or piggybacking. It exploits human weaknesses like a target’s negligence or unawareness to steal their private information. Relying on psychological manipulation, Quid Pro Quo attacks to manipulate the targets to gain their trust in order to steal sensitive data like credentials or credit card information.
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What is a Quid Pro Quo Attack?
A Quid Pro Quo attack is a low-level attack in which attackers lure the users to acquire their private or sensitive information. Malicious actors carry out these attacks by persuading people to avail of technical services provided by them. Availing of these services usually requires a user to share sensitive information, which enables hackers to access the target’s devices to implant malware.
Quid Pro Quo is a type of social engineering attack that requires great manipulation skills and just basic technical knowledge. Though the whole procedure involved in carrying out a Quid Pro Quo attack can be tedious, it is a popular attack vector among novice or non-technical hackers. All they need to do is pretend to be a technical expert and make spam calls to unsuspecting targets.
How Does a Quid Pro Quo Attack Work?
In a Quid Pro Quo attack, threat actors call people randomly and offer services or any other kind of assistance. Among such random attempts, there are often some potential targets who might be facing technical difficulties and are glad to accept the offer. Once a target accepts the services offered by malicious actors, hackers can exploit the victim’s needs to obtain crucial information such as bank account details or login credentials.
Quid Pro Quo is quite similar to baiting attacks. They only differ from one another on the parameters of offerings. A quid pro quo attack involves offering services and does not require the use of advanced tools or any extensive research on the target.
Examples of Quid Pro Quo Attacks
A very common example of a Quid Pro Quo attack is a hacker calling a target and pretending to provide technical assistance for common issues like slow Wi-Fi speed. When the target accepts the assistance, he/she is asked to share some kind of personal and confidential information in return.
Another example of a successful Quid Pro Quo attack is a malicious actor calling a senior citizen and pretending to be from a bank, offering to guide the target in using online banking services. After some small talk, he asks the target if there are any issues he is facing regarding online banking. By pretending to guide the target in using these online services, he asks for confidential login details or credentials.
In many cases, malicious actors have accessed the list of employees in a particular company and called each of them, claiming to be from the IT department. They ask if the employee has been facing any technical issues and offer to help. In the process of “helping”, they implant the target employee’s system with malware.
What are the Consequences of Quid Pro Quo Attacks?
There are various grave consequences of Quid Pro Quo attacks as they can be used to launch worse attacks like ransomware, business scams, and phishing attacks. These attacks can lead to financial losses, data breaches, and technological disruption. They can also lead to fraud and exploitation of resources. By scamming an employee through these attacks, malicious actors can access the most privileged and sensitive data belonging to an organization, resulting in some disastrous repercussions.
How Can Organizations Prevent Quid Pro Quo Attacks?
Quid Pro Quo attacks, along with all the other kinds of social engineering attacks, target the human element of an organization. In addition to being a threat to your employees’ online safety, these attacks also put the cyber security of your entire organization at risk. If a malicious actor manages to compromise the system of even one of your employees, every device on the same network is put in danger, compromising your organization’s security.
There are certain practices and policies you can adopt to protect your employees and as a result your organization, against social engineering attacks like Quid Pro Quo. All employees of an organization must be given security awareness training to enable them to identify common social engineering tactics. Security Awareness Training is the first and foremost line of defence against attacks caused by human error.
Social engineering attacks like Quid Pro Quo operate on the principle that human beings are the weakest and most vulnerable element in an organization’s security chain. Inculcating a culture of cyber awareness in your workspace is the only way to prevent such attacks. You can make use of security awareness training tools like TSAT to educate employees about the basics of cyber security and equip them with the knowledge they need to navigate the online world safely.
In addition, you should make sure that all the devices used by your employees to store or transmit business data are secured with cutting-edge anti-malware and security tools. Instruct your employees to never share any sensitive or personal information with anyone overcall. Make sure they understand their responsibility towards keeping the organization safe from cyber threats.
The objective of a Quid Pro Quo attack is to trick users into availing of services offered by malicious actors in return for sensitive information. It is a type of social engineering attack and relies heavily on human manipulation. Thus, it is important to be aware of the process involved in such attacks to prevent them from happening and keep your organization and employees safe.