Social hacking is the process of using social engineering techniques to gain access to sensitive information or systems.
It is a form of phycological tradecraft that exploits human weaknesses, such as the need for trust and social interaction.
Direct human interaction to trick users into divulging confidential information or performing actions that they would not normally do.
The purpose of social hacking is to obtain financial information, account credentials, trade/state secrets, social media accounts or other confidential information. Instead of hacking the security system (passwords, firewalls etc.), this way bypasses most if not all technological measures. It’s also used to gain physical access to buildings or systems.
Social hacking is commonly seen as a part of larger cyberattacks, such as phishing campaigns or targeted attacks. However, it can also be used for less malicious purposes, such as marketing research or competitive intelligence gathering.
How Social Hacking Works
Social hacking is the process of using deception and manipulation to convincing people to hand over sensitive information or grant access to systems. This can be done in person, over the phone, or online through email or social media.
There are many different types of social hacking attacks, but they all rely on exploiting human trust, authority and gullibility. For example, an attacker may pose as a customer service representative and convince a victim to give them their credit card number. Or they may send a phishing email that appears to be from a legitimate company in order to trick the recipient into giving away their login credentials.
In order for social hacking attacks to be successful, attackers must first do their homework. They need to learn about their target’s habits, interests, and current situation so that they can create a believable story. For example, if an attacker was targeting a high-level executive at a company, they might research recent news events affecting the company in order to seem like a credible source of information.
Once the attacker has gathered enough information about their target, they can begin planning their attack. The goal of the attack will determine what type of social hacking techniques are used. For instance, an attacker trying to steal money from a bank account will use different techniques than an attacker trying to gain access to classified government documents.
Types of Social Hacking Attacks
Phishing is one of the most common types of social engineering attacks. It involves sending emails or text messages that appear to come from a legitimate source, such as a bank or well-known company. The goal of phishing attacks is usually to trick recipients into giving away sensitive information like login credentials or credit card numbers. However, phishing can also be used for other purposes, such as delivering malware payloads or redirecting traffic to bogus websites .
CEO or executive fraud is a type of business email compromise (BEC) attack in which attackers impersonate high-level executives in order to tricks employees into transferring money or sharing confidential information . These attacks usually target finance departments and use personal details about the CEO (or other executives) that have been gathered through public sources or previous data breaches.
Pretexting is when an attacker uses false pretenses in order to obtain personal information from victims. For example, an attacker may pretend to be from a reputable organization in order to get victims to share sensitive information like passwords or date of birth. Pretexting can also involve physical deception, such as posing as a delivery person in order to gain access to buildings .
Vishing (voice phishing) is when attackers use telephone calls or voicemails instead of email messages in order to obtain sensitive information from victims. Like phishing, vishing relies on creating a sense of urgency or fear in order soliciting personal information. For example, an attacker may call pretending to be from victim’s bank and say that there has been suspicious activity on the victim’s account. The caller will then ask for personal details like account numbers or passwords in order verify the victim’s identity.
Water holing attacks involve compromising legitimate websites that are frequented by targets and planting malware on those sites. When targets visit these sites, they unknowingly infect their systems with malware. This type of attack is often used against high-value targets because it allows attackers sit back and wait for victims to come to them instead of having t o directly target each victim individually.
Baiting attacks typically involve physical media such as USB sticks or CDs/DVDs that contain malicious software or files. Attackers will leave these in the devices of their targets or send them through the mail in hopes that someone will find them and plug them into their computer out of curiosity. Once plugged in, the malicious software will automatically execute and give the attacker access to the victim’s device and any sensitive data stored on it.
Unlike a computer system, account or network getting directly (traditionally) hacked, it’s not necessarily the user’s fault because they don’t have complete control over it. So no matter how secure or advanced it is, it can still get compromised and 100 percent protection is never possible.
However, when it comes to social hacking, 100 percent protection is possible for an individual with solid OPSEC and vulnerability awareness. Unfortunately, most people are susceptible to be exploited through their human vulnerabilities.
Social hacking has the power to render any password, firewall or security measure useless by bypassing them altogether.
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