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June 22, 2022 / by Admin / In security

3 Common Social Engineering Attacks on the Financial Services Industry - Are Your Employees Likely to Fall For These Scams?

Social engineering attacks are on the rise and financial services industry employees are a prime target. These attacks can be very costly for businesses, financially and reputationally. Before we discuss this in detail, what is social engineering?

What Is Social Engineering?

Social engineering is manipulating people into divulging confidential or sensitive information. It is a type of fraud that relies on human interaction and often involves tricking people into revealing passwords, credit card numbers, or other sensitive information. The financial services industry is particularly vulnerable to social engineering attacks due to the large amounts of money and sensitive data handled daily. In addition, the industry is highly regulated, which means that there are often strict rules and procedures in place that social engineers can exploit.

What Makes Social Engineering So Effective?

Social engineering attacks can have far-reaching consequences for the targeted individuals and the organisations they work for. Individuals who fall victim to social engineering attacks can have their personal information stolen, leading to identity theft and financial fraud. In addition, they may also experience emotional distress and anxiety due to the attack.

Organisations that are targeted by social engineering attacks can suffer reputational damage, financial losses and loss of customer trust. In some cases, they may even be subject to regulatory fines and legal action. Social engineering is so effective because it exploits the human desire to trust. As humans, we are naturally trusting and this makes us vulnerable to manipulation. As a result, social engineering attacks often take advantage of people’s inherent gullibility and willingness to help others.

Top 3 Social Engineering Attacks in the Financial Services Industry

In the financial services industry social engineering attacks are a serious threat. Hackers use these attacks to trick employees into revealing sensitive information or giving them access to systems and data. These attacks can have devastating consequences for businesses and consumers alike.

This is why it’s so important for companies in the financial services industry to be aware of the most common social engineering attacks and take steps to protect themselves. Phishing, vishing, and smishing are among the most common and potentially devastating attacks that target this industry.

1. Phishing

Phishing is a social engineering attack that tricks people into clicking on malicious links or attachments in emails. The attackers use email to impersonate a trusted source, such as a bank, credit card company or online retailer. These cybercriminals then direct the recipient to a fake website that looks legitimate, but is designed to steal sensitive information such as login credentials or credit card numbers.

In the financial services industry, phishing attacks target customer data, such as account numbers. Attackers may also use phishing to access corporate bank accounts or sensitive financial information. Phishing attacks can have a significant financial impact on businesses, leading to a loss of customer data, money and reputation.

There are many different types of phishing attacks, but some of the most common include:

Spear phishing-This type of attack targets a specific individual or organisation. The attacker will often research their target before sending them a personalised email that appears to be from a legitimate source. Whaling- Here, the aim is high-profile individuals within an organisation, such as CEOs, CFOs or other senior executives. The attacker will send a personalised email that appears to be from a legitimate source, often asking for sensitive financial information or login credentials.

2. Vishing

Vishing is a type of social engineering attack that involves using voice or VoIP to try and gain access to sensitive information. The attacker will often spoof the caller ID to make it appear as if they are calling from a legitimate company, such as a bank, and then try to trick the victim into giving them personal information or login credentials. Vishing attacks can be challenging to detect, as the caller often sounds legitimate and may even have some basic information about the victim.

However, there are a few things that you can look out for that may indicate that a vishing attack is targeting you:

  • The caller ID is spoofed or appears to be from a legitimate company.
  • The caller asks for personal or sensitive information.
  • The caller tries to rush you or is otherwise insistent on getting the information they need.

If you receive a call that meets any of the above criteria, it is important to exercise caution and not give out any information. If you are unsure, you can always hang up and call the company back using a number that you know to be legitimate.

3. Smishing

Smishing is a form of social engineering assault that uses text messages to persuade victims into disclosing sensitive information, such as login credentials or financial information. Smishing attacks involve sending spoofed text messages from a trusted entity, such as a bank or credit card company, including links to a malicious website. The website may look legitimate, but it is designed to steal users’ information. There are many ways that smishing attacks can go about this, but they all share one common goal: trick the user into giving away sensitive information.

Some examples of smishing attacks include:

  • A text message from a spoofed bank or credit card company that includes a link to a malicious website. The website may look legitimate, but it is designed to steal users’ information.
  • A text message from a fraudulent government agency that contains a link to an untrustworthy website. The webpage may appear genuine, but it is intended to steal your information.
  • An unsolicited text message from a fraudulent firm promises a free gift if the user responds to an email. The link takes you to a malicious site intended to steal your personal information.

Smishing attacks are becoming more common as attackers find new ways to take advantage of people’s trust. Almost half (49%) of organisations worldwide were unable to detect an attack or breach on employee-owned devices. With this in mind, it’s essential to be aware of these attacks and know how to educate your employees about how to protect themselves.

Here are some tips to protect yourself from smishing attacks:

  • Never click on links in text messages, even if they look legitimate. If you’re unsure about a link, go to the company’s website directly by typing the URL into your browser.
  • If you receive a text message from a company or organisation that you’re not expecting, do not reply. Instead, contact the company directly to ask if they sent the message.
  • Never give out personal information, such as your login credentials or financial information, in response to a text message.

Bottom Line

Social engineering attacks are becoming increasingly sophisticated and now target all industries, including the financial service industry. In fact, cyberattacks have escalated so dramatically that ANZ reported 8 to 10 million attacks a month during the pandemic. These attacks can have devastating consequences, so it is important to be aware of the different types of attacks and how to protect yourself. If you receive a suspicious email, voice message or text message, do not respond and contact your bank or financial institution immediately and notify your organisations’ responsible department.