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News

Protection against social engineering based threats

Guidance Consulting : 05 August, 2009  (Technical Article)
Guidance Consulting explains the threat of social engineering attacks on larger businesses and how they can be prevented
IT support company Guidance Consulting warns that although social engineering is a real threat to large businesses and corporations, it's one that many decision-makers don't spend much time worrying about. The world of hackers and con men seems far removed from the ordinary, day-to-day bustle of business life, and although protection against viruses and other network-based damages is high, many companies fail to take social engineering threats into account.

'Social engineering is a dangerous threat - even if it's not an immediate one,' says Daniel Gottilla, senior consultant at Guidance Consulting. 'And when the damages from social engineering do occur, they usually hit hard, hit fast, and hit big.'

In the security world, social engineering occurs when hackers or other malicious sources try to infiltrate a network by manipulating the human element. This means that these outside sources may call a company or otherwise make contact in an attempt to pull information to help them access even the most secure of systems. 'It's a scary prospect,' says Gottilla, 'because even the best vulnerability protection can be proven ineffective if just one employee lets too much information go to the wrong person. All of a sudden, you have to worry about entire security networks losing their effectiveness.'

The reasons behind social engineering damages vary, depending primarily on the type of business being targeted. Large corporations or Fortune 500 companies might be vulnerable to individuals looking to steal money. Other businesses might be preyed upon for access to client information. Some are even targets of little more than revenge or a hacker's attempt to prove his or her abilities as a social engineer.

No matter what the reason, however, the results can be catastrophic. Although these kinds of attacks are rarer than other types of vulnerability issues, they typically cost more in the long run, oftentimes to the tune of hundreds of thousands of dollars.

Fortunately, companies like Guidance Consulting provide an added layer of protection even against social engineers. By focusing on employee training and effective security measures at the managerial level, many corporations are able to avoid many of the damages associated with this kind of attack. 'Like all good IT security, it's about creating a custom-made plan for your business,' Gottilla asserts. 'Because these hackers are taking individual businesses and security weaknesses into account every time they try to get into a system, we address social engineering issues in the exact same way. We find your weaknesses and eliminate them.'
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