While there are various methods to perform a penetration test, we are specifically going to talk about social engineering penetration testing in this blog. With the increasing dependency on the internet and the use of social media, social engineering has become pretty common. It is a cyber security attack wherein the attacker tricks individuals into revealing confidential information.

Now you must be wondering what social engineering penetration testing is?  It is one of the most effective techniques that is used in organizations by ethical hackers. The professional white-hat hacker performs various social engineering attacks to recognize weaknesses in an employee, group of employees or process. The goal is to identify weak points so as to work on them and prevent cyber security attacks that may occur in the future.

We’re going to talk about this technique in complete detail. Our intention is to provide beginners with the best possible information in the easiest possible manner. So, let’s get started…

Types of Social Engineering Attacks 

There are multiple forms of social engineering attacks. But, the most common ones that students pursuing cyber security certification courses online should know about are:-

  1. Phishing

This is a method that takes place through email. Here, the hacker attempts to deceive the user into sharing valuable information or opening a malicious/virus-infected file that can harm their system.

  1. Vishing

Vishing is very much similar to phishing but it takes place through phone calls instead of emails. In this attack, the hacker calls users and tricks them into divulging delicate information amidst the conversation.

  1. Smishing

This attack again is quite similar to phishing and takes place through SMS (text messages). The text messages are written in such a way that they compel the user to disclose sensitive information.

  1. Impersonation

You may be familiar with this type of cyber security attack already. Impersonation basically means that the hacker attempts to mislead an individual into believing they are someone else or someone they know.

For instance, the attacker could pretend to be an employee with the aim of convincing employees to share financial payments to false/unreal vendors or to grant permission to confidential company data.

Likewise, the attacker could also attempt to target a user with the aim of accessing their personal accounts. This could be achieved by asking users for a password reset or pretending to be a delivery guy and gaining access to secure areas.

  1. USB Drops

USB drops as the name goes is a technique wherein multiple malicious USBs are dropped in the workspace’s common areas. The USBs consist of software that when plugged into the system can install malicious software or files that can allow the hacker to enter a secure section.

  1. Dumpster Diving

In this social engineering attack, the hacker checks not only the deleted items but also other items such as calendars, emails, sticky notes to learn personal information about an individual or important information about a cyber-security certifications online company.

  1. Tailgating

This method is generally used to evade physical security measures by hackers. It is common in areas where an individual has to scan an access code to enter the premise.

To implement this attack, the hacker follows an employee and enters the premise immediately after they scan their access code to open the door.

Need for Performing a Social Engineering Test

When it comes to security, users in an organization are considered the “weakest links” by hackers. This is because they have a lot of permissions and information that are needed to perform their jobs.

In order to prevent attacks, organizations pen tests on them. These tests help them identify specific employees who are vulnerable to these attacks. The tests are typically done is two ways – onsite and off-site.

1. On Site Tests

These types of tests allow an organization to test the physical security of its premises and the internal policies that the employees need to follow. The methods of attack include in these tests are-

  • USB drops
  • Tailgating
  • Impersonation
  • Dumpster Diving

2. Off-site Tests

These tests are usually performed during their normal days and aren’t really limited to the company’s premises. In this type of test, the tester researches the company and uses their information that is available publically to test all the employees. These tests are usually conducted remotely and they include –

  • Smishing
  • Vishing
  • Phishing

There is one more technique is can be used both onsite and off-site. This is called – eavesdropping. Just as the general meaning of this word goes, this technique comprises of stealthily listening to the staff’s conversions via Voice over Internet Protocol phones using mobile traffic interception.

FINAL WORDS

The guide to social engineering penetration testing does not end here. We will be discussing it in our upcoming blog as well. Not only will we be talking about the methods used by experts to perform social engineering attacks but we’ll also be sharing a step-by-step guide to performing a social engineering penetration test. Keep watching this space…