The Human Factor: Cyber Attacks Often Target

People, Not Technology

Cyber criminals are stepping up attacks that target people, not technology. They are taking advantage of the human instincts of curiosity and trust that can lead well-intentioned peo- ple to click on malicious links, download unsafe files, install malware, transfer funds and disclose sensitive information every day.

Social engineering is at the heart of most of these attacks. Often involving no more than a telephone number or email address, criminals imitate a trusted source in order to convince people to perform certain tasks, such as granting access to a computer or account, or disclosing confidential information, like pass- words. And since humans are more capable of making mistakes than software such as antivirus programs, these kinds of attacks have become more and more common.

These criminals choose to target individuals instead of an entire organization because in many cases, these smaller targets are not prepared to defend against sophisticated threats. Even the best defenses can be thwarted by one wayward click on a link or attachment or one innocent response to a well-crafted email lure.

Social engineering attacks work well and often require no special skills. Rather than force their way through a login screen, it’s much easier for cyber criminals to take on the identity of an executive, an IT employee, or an accounts receivable rep and just ask for credentials. In addition, they can send users to fake login screens from which they can harvest information or utilize technology known as VoIP (Voice over Internet Protocol) spoofing that allows the attacker to make their call appear to come from the target’s phone – technology that is widely available and requires no expertise.

8 | The Retailer Magazine | Mar/Apr

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