How Hackers Can Trick Your Employees Using Social Engineering

How Hackers Can Trick Your Employees Using Social Engineering

Even before the coronavirus pandemic and the changes it quickly forced on the way we work, IT managers and cybersecurity strategists had already observed a rise in Social Engineering, the latest cyber threat to businesses.

The most critical of cyber dangers does not start with malware by any means. Instead, social engineering attacks businesses by permitting malicious software to be installed or giving access to otherwise secure assets. In 2018, social engineering was the top technique for cyber criminals to first gain access to an organization.

What is Social Engineering?

Social Engineering is a control strategy adopted by hackers to fool individuals into surrendering confidential data. Social engineering relies heavily on basic human instincts of trust to take individual and corporate data that can then be utilized to perpetrate further cybercrimes.

For instance, a hacker may use social engineering to persuade an employee to disclose the organization’s passwords. The cybercriminal then uses these passwords to take information and introduce malware to the company network.

Type of Social Engineering


Phishing is a unique method used to steal information. Notwithstanding its reputation, it remains very effective. The culprit commonly sends an email or text to any employee, looking for data that may help with a more critical crime.

In another type of phishing, known as spear phishing, the fraudster attempts to target or spear a specific individual. The criminal may find the name and email of HR personnel inside a specific organization. The criminal then sends that individual an email that seems to originate from a high-level executive.

Some recent cases included an email demand for employee W-2 information, including names, addresses, and social security numbers. If the hacker is successful, the victim will unknowingly hand over information that could be used to steal employees’ identities.


Vishing is the voiced version of phishing. While the criminal uses the telephone to fool a victim into giving out important information, the outcome is the same. A hacker may call an employee, pretending to be a colleague. The criminal may sway the victim to give login details or other data that could be used to target the organization or its employees.

Email Hacking and Spamming

With the many emails we receive daily, it is normal that our instinct is to focus on messages from people we know. Hackers attempt to exploit this by taking control of email accounts and spammed account contact records.

If a close friend or colleague sent you an email with the subject, “I think you would be interested in this,” you probably wouldn’t think twice before opening it and exposing yourself to malware or ransomware.

By taking control over someone’s email account, a hacker can make those on the contact list accept an email from the original owner. The essential goals include spreading malware and deceiving individuals out of their information.

Quid Pro Quo

This trick involves what the victim believes to be a fair trade but the victim consistently ends up as the loser.

A con artist may call an employee, claiming to be an IT support specialist. Believing they are receiving specialized support, the employee may hand over the login credentials to their computer. The hacker is now able to assume control of the victim’s computer. They would typically follow with installing malware or even taking proprietary data from the PC to commit identity theft.


This social engineering relies on a victim taking the bait, much like a fish responding to a worm on a hook. The cyber criminal needs to lure their target into giving them access to their network.

A cybercriminal may, for instance, leave a thumb drive, equipped with malware, in a spot where the target will see it. In addition, the criminal may mark the device in a convincing manner – “private” or “bonuses.” The target who takes the bait will plug in the thumb drive to view the content and the malware will install itself on the company network.


Pretexting is the use of affection or a ploy to catch the victim’s attention. With just a simple story, the hacker attempts to deceive the victim into giving them important information.

Suppose you got an email naming you as the recipient of a will. The email requests your personal information to confirm you are the genuine recipient and speed up your inheritance. Instead, you are in danger of giving an cyber criminal the ability to access your financial information.

Social engineering is used everyday to compromise computer networks. Your best guard against these sorts of dangers is to educate yourself and your employees, so you are informed regarding the many techniques used to hack your business.

WheelHouse Solutions can provide your employees with the Cyber Security Awareness Training they need to protect your business assets from hackers. Security Awareness Training provides the continuous, relevant and measurable cybersecurity education businesses need to minimize user error that result in security breaches and losses.

If you’d like more information on Cyber Security Awareness training for your business, please fill out the form on this page and someone will get back with you quickly. You may also call us directly at 314-492-2506.

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   St. Louis, MO 63146
   Phone: 314-492-2506

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   11971 Westline Industrial Drive, Suite 102
   St. Louis, MO 63146
   Phone: 314-492-2506

    Find Us On Google Maps

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