General 3min de Leitura - 17 de May de 2018

Social engineering and the impacts on the corporate environment

Grande mão com fios manipulando um homem que está sentado a mesa digitando em um notebook.

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Social engineering has become one of the most widely used techniques for exploiting people’s vulnerability. It happens quite often in corporate environments and was even the main form of corporate attack in the year 2015, according to Proofpoint’s Human Factor Report.

Known as an “Art of deception,” social engineering is directly linked to the success of techniques used to promote targeted virtual attacks. This attack aims to exploit the weakest link in a security structure, which are people. Its primary purpose is to maintain contact with individuals – in this case, employees – in order to compromise the company’s security arsenal, bringing losses of the most varied types.

To learn more about social engineering and the impacts on the corporate environment, just continue reading this blog post.

What is social engineering?

The concept of social engineering is directly linked to that of persuasion. It is a term referring to the psychological manipulation of people to carry out activities that, following the good practice of Information Security, they should not perform.

With such a trap, which requires human interaction, criminals may have access to confidential data – likely to be fooled by the naivety of a company employee, for example. For this reason, it is a concept strongly studied by the Information Security industry.

Social engineering is commonly used for negative purposes, but it can also be used as a fault-finding tool. With it, human errors in organizations can be found and the appropriate ways to correct them.

Although it has this side, social engineering is often used with negative ends and can cause numerous problems for organizations, being one of the great challenges of today’s technology professionals.

Dangers in the Corporate Environment

There are many techniques and criminal attacks that use social engineering. Behind their methods of approach it is mainly possible the theft of confidential and corporate information, necessary for business continuity.

Therefore, we have selected the main types of approaches used by criminals practicing social engineering. Check it out!


Emails are great ways to catch victims and phishing has just that purpose. It is the classic attack that encourages the click, with calls referring to registrations and bank changes, or even the divulgation of offers not to be received from an unknown sender.

In corporations, the main variation of this threat is called spear phishing. This is because cybercriminals collect extremely specific and objective information through social engineering, in addition to targeting precisely certain organizations. In this way, the attacks are smaller, but much more powerful and invasive.


This practice is very similar to phishing. The big difference is that the attack happens on a website – a legitimate one – that has targeted traffic to operate criminally. Thus, it is possible for users to unknowingly install malicious programs on their own machine. Like phishing, pharming induces victims to engage in activities that have tragic consequences for the organization.

Social media

In many companies, it has become commonplace to grant access to social mediafor employee use. Whether it is to accomplish tasks that meet the purpose of the organization or as an escape to ease the stress of everyday life, social networks are entirely conducive to the practice of social engineering.

By private chats or free publications on the platforms, employees run the risk of being approached by cybercriminals with the aim of manipulating the victims. Thus, it is common to extort confidential company information, putting it at risk.

Phone calls

Although not one of the most effective methods, it is an extremely traditional tactic and one of the many possibilities of social engineering. In just one connection, the criminal can be a partner, collaborator or manager. Thus, it induces the sharing of confidential data of the organization through a totally manipulated conversation.

How to be protected?

One of the key tips to protect yourself from social engineering attacks is to have a good judgment. But since common sense is a very subjective thing in the corporate world, it is important that technology analysts disseminate good practices to avoid this type of incident, such as:

  • Encourage employees not to click suspicious links;
  • Avoid opening messages with senders from strangers or unknown addresses;
  • Never give information to people whose approach is suspect;
  • Under no circumstances provide confidential information about yourself or the organization.


In addition to highly relevant practices, technology professionals need to seek periodic investments in corporate security. Many companies still do not follow adequate Information Security parameters and therefore suffer from many types of virtual threats – as harmful as social engineering. For this, there are many advisable solutions and methods that fit perfectly into the corporate environment.

  • The acquisition of UTM Firewallsis an extremely necessary practice, since it will guarantee visibility and security for the network architecture, being able to avoid accessing URLs/websites with malicious contents, avoiding accidents related to Pharming;
  • Use of corporate antispamvital for filtering messages that reach the employees’ inbox. Antispam minimizes social engineering’s chances of success through phishing strategy, as well as ensuring greater security for e-mail transactions.


Finally, it is fundamental that managers create plans to raise employee team awareness. There are many essential cares on the internet and, for corporate environments, internal staff need to be aware of how to guard against digital threats. Therefore, certifying that employees are aligned for this purpose is an essential step in the process of preventing social engineering and other virtual attacks.

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