The internet is one of the best inventions in terms of technological advancement. It’s provided us with a whole wealth of information at our fingertips and has changed the way in which we go about almost every task in our daily lives. But this doesn’t mean that it isn’t without its own dangers.

Although we have become a lot more savvy when it comes to internet security, there are still advancements being made in online crime. As we become smarter, as do the people out there who are trying to scam us.

But it’s not all doom and gloom! There are plenty of ways to educate ourselves and protect ourselves from these internet scammers. One of those ways is through online tools, but before we delve into what that looks like, let’s get to grips with what social engineering is and how it can have a negative impact on your online life.

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What is social engineering?

First things first, what do we mean when we say social engineering? Social engineering is where an online criminal will manipulate you into giving away your confidential information. This can be anything from a login and password to something such as your credit card information.

The type of information they are trying to source from you will vary but the way in which they go about it is similar. Most people now recognize that you should never give any information out to someone you don’t know. But if it’s someone you trust, or at least appears to be someone you trust, you’re more likely to let your guard down.

And this is what internet security comes down to – who and what you can trust. There’s a reason your browser will ask you if you’re connecting to an account from a shared computer. It’s best to only give your information away to people and devices that you know are secure. And that is generally only ones that are used solely by yourself.

For example, if your friend is asking to use a food delivery account of yours, you’re more likely to give it to them because it appears to be someone you trust. Internet scammers know this as well which is why they use these certain techniques to try and get your information from you.

What social engineering tactics should I look out for?

The main question is: how do I know when social engineering tactics are being used? There are a few things you can look out for to protect yourself.

  • Email or message from a trusted source

This might seem a little obvious but you should only be sharing your information with trusted sources. Thankfully the days of obvious phishing emails are over but this just means that scammers are being more clever about the tactics they use.

The main way scammers do this is by sending an email from an address that is the exact same as the real address but with one or two characters changed or missing. When we read emails, we typically just scan the name at the top and rarely look into the actual email address. And because everything we do is on our phones; we click on links and move through emails at a faster pace.

There are some clues to look out for that should ring alarm bells.

  1. An urgent appeal – if you’re receiving an email from a source that wouldn’t usually display any urgency, this should ring an alarm bell. Typically, anything that seems out of the ordinary should get to you investigate further.
  2. Winning a competition – of course, if you actually have entered a competition and this email is expected then you should be fine – but it’s always worth checking. However, if you know you’ve entered no giveaways or don’t recognize where this information is coming from then you should refrain from clicking any links or sharing any information.
  3. Pose as a colleague or friend – if you get an email from someone who claims to be a person you know but they’re ‘using a different email’ or the email address isn’t recognized from your contacts, you should investigate. The best way to do this would be to call or message the person via telephone to confirm whether it’s them or not. And if it isn’t, make sure you block and report the account that has contacted you.
  4. Close up portrait serious successful he his him hold look telephone typing sms different ladies pictures illustration global search innovation microblogging isolated grey background.

How can you protect yourself against social engineering?

The best protection against internet scammers is to always proceed with caution. It’s easy to get caught up in these traps but looking out for the clues detailed above can help weed out any potential scams.

There are also internet tools out there that can assist you for some extra piece of mind. Just as scammers are evolving, protective tools are evolving too, for example Perimeter 81 offers SASE solution which offers an extra protective layer to your online experience.

SASE stands for Secure Access Service Edge and it essentially acts as a barrier between you and any potential scams that might be out there. Using a mixture of VPN and SD-WAN capabilities, SASE has a multitude of security functions to create a super secure network.

Being extra cautious yourself is a great way to protect you and your information but SASE gives you some extra padding and peace of mind.

The internet can be a wonderful place, full of knowledge and entertainment. And with SASE solutions, you can enjoy it even more knowing your information is safe.