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Social engineering: how to safeguard against more advanced threats

Andrew Avanessian
Date published
1/8/2018 11:24:17 AM

Research from Proofpoint found that social engineering was the top attack technique for beating cyber security defences in 2015, and it poses the same significant threat to businesses today.

Despite actions taken by businesses to prevent social engineering attacks, such as educating employees not to click on suspicious email links and being wary of who adds them on social media, social engineers are infiltrating organisations using increasingly sophisticated methods.


So how can businesses ensure that relevant employees are aware of the threats and know how to deal with them?

Preparation needs to start from the bottom-up. It’s vital that all employees are aware of the threats of social engineering.

Although educating employees to spot typos in emails and strange email domains can help to mitigate the threat of phishing emails, employees will always be the weakest link in the security chain.


“Implementing least privilege is the first and most essential step in the security journey for any business.”


It’s therefore crucial that companies have the right technology in place to protect themselves, and that IT teams have full visibility of their entire security environment. This will allow them to spot unusual activity and prevent further impact as soon as possible.


Layered security is often recommended to be the best mitigation strategy across the threat landscape, but focusing specifically on social engineering, how can organizations become more resilient to this attack mode? 

Too many employees have access to corporate data that they simply don’t need. This means that once a window is opened through a carefully crafted phishing email, a whole corporate system can be brought down in one fell swoop.

Implementing least privilege is the first and most essential step in the security journey for any business. This ensures that employees only have access to the information they need to perform their day-to-day roles, massively reducing the attack surface. 

Having a whitelisting system in place to control which applications can be downloaded and launched is the next step. IT departments also need to continuously patch and update systems to ensure that all potentially vulnerable devices are equipped to deal with the latest attacks. Having visibility of all of this and how different security technologies integrate is essential.

Security is simple. Adopting a layered approach will protect against the vast majority of modern threats, including social engineering, and it doesn’t have to be difficult to implement. Once an organisation has the right foundations in place they can stop hackers in their tracks much more effectively.

As these threats become more advanced, the likelihood of human failure will increase. If you can reduce the impact human failure (clicking on a link, downloading an attachment) then you’re going to stand a much better chance of containing and mitigating the threat.


How can Defendpoint help?

While education and awareness of social engineering attacks are essential, removing admin rights is the best next step to take, and you can do this easier than you think.

Defendpoint can secure all your endpoints by turning admins in your company into standard user accounts.

It does this without compromising productivity, as applications can still run but don’t allow hidden threats to spread. This threat detection happens seamlessly in the background, leaving users free to work, and alleviating your IT department of permission request calls.

Discover all of this and more in a free demo of Defendpoint today.