Connecticut State Colleges & Universities
IT Support Center

Information Security Education and Awareness

Social Engineering

5 tips to help you avoid being a social engineering victim

  1. Consider the source. A found USB stick isnít necessarily a good find. It could be loaded with malware, just waiting to infect a computer. And a text or email from your bank isnít necessarily from your bank. Spoofing a trusted source is relatively easy. Donít click on links or open attachments from suspicious sources ó and in this day and age, you may want to consider all sources suspicious. No matter how legitimate that email appears, itís safer to type a URL into your browser instead of clicking on a link.
  2. Slow down. Social engineers often count on their targets to move quickly, without considering the possibility that a scammer may be behind the email, phone call, or face-to-face request on which theyíre acting. If you stop to think about the ask and whether it makes sense or seems a bit fishy, you may be more likely to act in your own best interest ó not the scammerís.
  3. If it sounds too odd to be true Ö. Seriously, how likely is it that a Nigerian prince would reach out to you for your help? Or, on the flip side, that a relative is texting you to post bail while traveling? Investigate any requests for money, personal information, or any item of value before handing it over. Thereís a pretty good chance itís a scam ó and even if itís not, better to be safe than sorry.
  4. Install an antivirus software or a security suite ó and keep that software up to date. Also, make sure your computer and other devices are running the latest versions of their operating software. If possible, set the operating systems to update automatically. Having the latest versions of these software applications on your devices will help ensure theyíre prepared for the most recent security threats.
  5. Your email software can help you. Most email programs can help filter out junk mail, including scams. If you think yours isnít doing enough, do a quick online search to find out how to change its settings. The goal is to set your spam filters to high to weed out as much junk mail as possible.

Social engineering is everywhere, online and offline. Your best defense against these kinds of attacks is to educate yourself so that youíre aware of the risks ó and to stay alert.


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