It often begins as a seemingly harmless email, a call from a friend, or a text from a trusted organization. It appeals to your emotions and it wins your trust. And then, before you know it, they’ve got you. They’ve gained access to your network. They’ve stolen your data. And they’ve made off with your trade secrets, your contacts and your reputation.

Social engineering can cause irreparable harm to your business. That’s why we want to go over some common social engineering questions we receive — so you can avoid a potential attack.

Here are some of the most common social engineering questions people have:

What is Social Engineering?

According to UDT IT Director of Managed Services, Richard Reynoso, social engineering is a specific form of hacking where people are tricked into doing certain tasks, like gathering confidential information. “A lot of folks think that hacking is some geek sitting behind a computer screen, playing War Games and hacking into systems with some fancy type of program,” said Reynoso. “But social engineering is more personal – it includes the act of impersonating someone in order to access data, information or systems.”

How Does It Work?

Like identity theft, social engineering can happen anywhere — via phone, text message, email, social networks — even at the office. Social engineers often pose as people or companies you trust, and they try to trick you into installing malicious software or giving up confidential information.

Here are a few ways it can happen:

On the phone:

“Hi, I’m {Employee Name} and I can’t log into my computer. Could you help me recover my password?”

At the office:

“I forgot my access card. Could you grab the door for me?”

Via text message:

“This is {your bank}. Please call us about your account right away.”

Via email:

“Hey, check out this link, it’s really funny…”

On Facebook:

“I’m stuck in Amsterdam. Could you wire me some money?”

Remember: It isn’t always what they say, but how they say it. Social engineers are master manipulators who play to your emotions — they’ll try to get you to act before you’ve had time to think things over. Don’t fall for it. Make sure you research anything you’re not sure about, and when in doubt, just say “no” or hit “delete.”

How Do I Protect My Business from Social Engineering?

You can install firewalls and anti-phishing tools, update your anti-virus software and set your spam filters to high — but that will only get you so far. A seasoned social engineer can bypass all of that with a simple phone call. When it comes to protecting your business from social engineering, security awareness training is your best line of defense. It helps your employees recognize potential threats and take action to prevent an attack. But in order for the training to work, you need to schedule it regularly — especially if your business has a high rate of turnover.

Need help training your staff or have more social engineering questions? UDT’s team of experts is here to help.