How to Prevent Social Engineering Attacks

Social engineering attacks involve cybercriminals tricking people into disclosing sensitive information, granting access to computer networks, or performing actions that could compromise your business’s security.

Rather than focussing on technical network vulnerabilities, these attacks exploit human psychology. Keep reading to learn how to prevent social engineering attacks from devastating your business.

Common social engineering attack techniques

Here are some of the most common social engineering attack techniques to be aware of.


Phishing is the most common way of implementing a social engineering attack. Hackers generally use links in websites, emails and text messages to steal organisational and personal information from unsuspecting victims. 

Even though phishing techniques are well-known, it’s estimated that one in five employees still click on suspicious links. 

Spear phishing

Spear fishing is a more targeted phishing attack against businesses or individuals, demanding more in-depth research on the potential target and their business. 


Baiting sees the cybercriminal promising the victim a reward in return for access to sensitive business or personal information or knowledge of its whereabouts. 


Malware includes ransomware. These attacks involve sending the victim an urgently worded message and tricking them into installing the malware on their device. Some attackers tell their victims that malware has already been installed on their computers and they can remove it if they pay them a fee. 


Pre-texting sees the criminal assuming a false identity and fooling their victims into handing over information. These attacks are often used against businesses holding large amounts of client data, such as credit card providers, banks and utility companies.

Quid Pro Quo

In these attacks, cybercriminals assume identities, such as technical support professionals, to convince their victims to exchange information with them.


Tailgating attacks target individuals who can provide physical access to a secure network, building or other area. 


Vishing entails cybercriminals posing as officials and leaving an urgent voicemail to convince their victims to act quickly to save themselves from risk.

Watering Hole Attack

This attack uses advanced social engineering strategies to infect a website and those using it with malware. That infection then spreads to the victim’s own site, giving the criminal access to personal and financial information. 

The best prevention methods against social engineering attacks

Social engineering attacks are designed to play on your employees’ curiosity, desire to help and respect for authority. The best prevention and deterrent methods against social engineering attacks include the following:

Check sources

Always check where the communication is coming from, and don’t simply trust it blindly. Train your staff to be suspicious, especially about email contacts containing offers that appear to be too good to be true. 

  • Check email headers against valid emails from the sender.
  • Check where links go by hovering your cursor over them (don’t click the link!)
  • Check the spelling in emails. Errors and typos could mean that the email is fake.

If you’re in any doubt, use the sender’s website and contact a representative. They will confirm if the message or email is real or fake.

What information do they have?

Ask yourself if the attacker has all the information about your business you’d expect them to have. For example, if your bank contacts you, they should ask security questions before allowing you to change your account. If they don’t have that information, it could be a scam.

Time critical

Social engineering attacks often depend on creating a sense of urgency. Don’t be pressured into providing information.

Install a good spam filter

Have a decent spam filter installed on your network to weed out suspicious emails, files and links. The filter should have a blacklist of suspicious sender IDs and IP addresses and will analyse messages to determine if they are fake.

Keep anti-virus and anti-malware software up to date

Keeping your antivirus and anti-malware software updated can help prevent malware from installing itself on your network or devices.

Update firmware and software regularly

Be sure to update software and firmware regularly, especially security patches.

Password protection

Ensure network passwords are updated and changed regularly, and use different passwords for different networks and devices.

If a staff member thinks they’ve been a victim of a social engineering attack, have them change their password immediately.

Use two-factor authentication

Use two-factor authentication so that obtaining a password isn’t enough to allow a hacker to access your network.

Staff training

Hold regular training sessions on social engineering and cybercrime prevention for your employees to ensure they’re aware of the latest hacker techniques and how to protect your network from them.

Keep up to speed on cybersecurity issues

By keeping up to date with the latest cybersecurity risks, you can be forewarned about any new attack methods as they emerge, meaning you’re less likely to become a victim.

How important is cyber protection for businesses?

Cyber protection is of paramount importance for every business in the modern digital landscape. As our reliance on technology for communication, operations and data storage grows, businesses face a myriad of cyber threats, from ransomware attacks to data breaches.

Taking steps to protect your business is essential, including investing in cyber insurance to give you adequate coverage in case the worst should happen and your company is the victim of a cyber attack.

Here at Stanmore Insurance, our experts can help you navigate the minefield of cyber insurance policies and provide you with all the advice you need to protect your business from social engineering attacks.

Contact our team today for no-obligation advice and guidance.