Social Engineering is a type of manipulation where malicious actors seek to compromise a system or complete some type of illegal act through social rather than technical means. Avoiding socially engineered scams requires a keen technical awareness, as well as the ability to think through one’s actions. Training employees to avoid this type of manipulation can be critical in protecting your data systems and avoiding viruses.

A good understanding of technology is an important factor in preventing a scammer from loading a computer or system with malware. If you do not know how to properly operate the technology, or are not educated on how the system works, you will be vulnerable if someone tells you something that is incorrect. Similarly, you will not know how to properly safeguard a system. For example, some people erroneously believe that you would have to run a file from a thumb drive in order to get a virus from it, or that you cannot get viruses simply from visiting a website. These incorrect beliefs can cause problems if an employee then inserts infected media or visits websites at the instructions of an untrusted user, due to their belief that this cannot hurt the system. Therefore, proper technical training and mindfulness are important tools in preventing your employees from being manipulated into installing malware.

Another common type of social engineering takes place when a hacker will pose as a trusted figure. Stories abound of people walking into offices and pretending to be anything from janitors to federal inspectors. Either way, they often perpetrate fraud, steal money or data, or otherwise abuse the position of trust that they have assumed in order to further their schemes.

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The internet is no different. Oftentimes we will see methods such as phishing employed, where a scammer will send electronic messages pretending to be someone they are not. Alternatively, they may pose as a customer service technician (or even a computer repair person). Rather than a thief who breaks through a window and evades the security system, this type of person tries to sweet talk their way in the front door. Once they have access however, their intentions are nearly always malicious. Therefore, when looking to protect your electronic systems, training your employees (and restricting their access to sensitive material) are key steps to take. And if you are worried that something has occurred, always hire a professional to ensure that your data is safe.