The first line of defense is to stay alert. In social engineering attacks, the attacker might lure you into a conversation that becomes more of an interrogation. However, the best way to protect yourself from social engineering is to know who you can trust and be trustworthy yourself. You need to identify anyone who might gain access to your account or may influence it and ensure they have a good reason for doing so. 

Continuing reading will help you know what is a common method used in social engineering and how you can protect yourself from cyber attacks in the future!

What Is a Social Engineering Attasociack?

In social engineering attacks, an attacker tries to gain access to data or services by forging relationships with people whose trust they can exploit.

Social engineering attacks are a form of hacking in which an attacker tries to get access or information by exploiting trust. It is a very effective attack because it leverages your desire to help people, curiosity, and naivete. A social engineer can make you an unwitting accomplice by using high-level manipulation to get whatever the attacker wants. 

The use of deception and trickery to gain an advantage extends far before the widespread availability of personal computers and the world wide web. But we can look further back in history to see some of the most egregious social engineering attack cases.

In the most recent incident, which occurred in February 2020, a phishing attempt using a bogus renovation invoice successfully conned Barbara Corcoran of ABC’s “Shark Tank” out of almost $400,000.

If you are a victim of social engineering attacks, it is essential to know how to protect yourself from being victimized. Learn the warning signs of a potential threat and how to protect yourself.

Related read: What is Social Engineering?

What Is a Common Method Used in Social Engineering?

A common method used by social engineers in social engineering attacks is to impersonate IT support. This can be done by calling a company and asking to speak with the IT department or sending an email to the company saying they are calling from the IT department.

Once the caller or mailer has gained access, they may pretend to be from a different department or request information that the company would not normally release. The social engineer will also often collect as much information about their target as possible before making contact.

5 Ways To Protect Yourself From Social Engineering Attacks

Here we have gathered some helpful tips or ideas which help to protect yourself from being socially attacked or prevent social engineering attacks:

Unknown Senders (Emails vs. Text Messages)

Pay close attention to the sender’s email address and the content of the message. Knowing that you don’t need to click on any suspicious document links is essential. 

Stop Sharing Personal Information

Think before you share personal information, such as passwords and credit card numbers. No legitimate company or individual should ever ask for this type of sensitive information. Always use strong passwords and change them regularly. Avoid using the same passwords for multiple accounts and save yourself from being a victim of social engineering attacks.

Layers Of Security

Use two-factor authentication whenever possible. It can further add an extra layer of security by requiring users to enter a code sent to their mobile phone and their username and password. Always set up authentication codes with your email and phone number so that if someone were to gain access to either system, they wouldn’t be able to use your account directly.

Anti-virus Software

Install anti-malware and antivirus software on all of your devices. Keep these programs up to date so they can protect you from the latest threats. However, when you have an antivirus installed on your devices, it can provide an excellent shield from social engineering attacks.

Always Be Mindful Of Any Risks

You should always consider risks. Ensure that any request for information is accurate by double- and triple-checking. Keep an eye out for cybersecurity news when you are affected by a recent breach. 

What Are The Social Engineering Examples?

Victimizing people through social engineering attacks is a great way to perpetrate fraud. It can take place in several ways.  Here are some social engineering examples:

Gain Access

Hackers can gain access to your bank account by applying for credit in the name of another person. This fraud often involves a phone call or email sent to friends and family, who are then asked to make a wire transfer payment to quickly reimburse the hacker for their toll on the victim’s life. 

Steal Personal Information

Another common way people are tricked into handing over their personal information is by believing they have won a prize or contest they never entered but did sign up for. And when they receive such calls to make sure that they will get the prize once they give their details, that’s where the victims come up to the attacker’s trap. 


In this attack, attackers send emails that look like they’re from legitimate companies or organizations but contain malicious links or attachments. Furthermore, this is one of the most common social engineering attacks worldwide. 


Another massive social engineering attack involves creating a false identity or scenario to gain access to personal information. One of the most prominent social engineering examples is where attackers gain access to manipulate people through texting. 

Shoulder Surfing

It is an attack where the attacker looks over someone’s shoulder to gain access to confidential information. Sometimes the attacker is nothing but your close friends or loved ones who will be blackmailing you once they get the information they always wanted to have. So, it is essential to keep an eye on such people and never provide every personal detail. 


Tailgating is when an attacker follows someone authorized to enter a building or secure area without actually being authorized. It is not as common as other social engineering attacks, but still, it is hazardous and can leave damaging remarks. 


To protect yourself from social engineering attacks, you must learn to use precautions against them. As we already provided you with some standard methods of social engineering attacks, which have been used for several ages in the world, make sure to start implementing the precautions now. Social engineering attacks can damage a person’s plus, professional life within seconds. Always protect your devices, passwords, and other log-ins with two set-up authentication verification codes for an outer layer of protection. 

Before you do anything else, talk with a trusted IT professional or security expert like PowerDMARC. They can help you understand the risks of social engineering attacks and how to minimize them.

Before diving into the types of social engineering attacks that victims fall prey to on a daily basis, along with upcoming attacks that have taken the internet by a storm, let’s first briefly get into what social engineering is all about. 

To explain it in layman’s terms, social engineering refers to a cyberattack deployment tactic where threat actors use psychological manipulation to exploit their victims and defraud them.

Social Engineering: Definition and Examples

What is a social engineering attack?

As opposed to cybercriminals hacking into your computer or email system, social engineering attacks are orchestrated by trying to influence a victim’s opinions into manoeuvering them to expose sensitive information. Security analysts have confirmed that more than 70% of cyberattacks that take place on the internet on an annual basis are social engineering attacks.

Social Engineering Examples

Take a look at the example shown below:


Here we can observe an online advertisement luring the victim in with a promise to earn $1000 per hour. This ad contains a malicious link that can initiate a malware installation on their system. 

This type of attack is commonly known as Online Baiting or simply Baiting, and is a form of social engineering attack. 

Given below is another example:

As shown above, social engineering attacks can also be perpetrated using email as a potent medium. A common example of this is a Phishing attack. We would be getting into these attacks in more detail, in the next section.

Types of Social Engineering Attacks

1. Vishing & Smishing

Suppose today you get an SMS from your bank (supposedly) asking you to verify your identity by clicking on a link, or else your account will be deactivated. This is a very common message that is often circulated by cybercriminals to fool unsuspecting people. Once you click on the link you are redirected to a spoofing page that demands your banking information. Rest assured that if you end up providing your bank details to attackers they will drain your account. 

Similarly, Vishing or Voice phishing is initiated through phone calls instead of SMS.

2. Online Baiting / Baiting 

We come across a range of online advertisements every single day while browsing websites. While most of them are harmless and authentic, there might be a few bad apples hiding in the lot. This can be identified easily by spotting advertisements that seem too good to be true. They usually have ridiculous claims and lures such as hitting the jackpot or offering a huge discount.

Remember that this may be a trap (aka a bait). If something appears too good to be true, it probably is. Hence it is better to steer clear of suspicious ads on the internet, and resist clicking on them.

3. Phishing

Social engineering attacks are more often than not carried out via emails, and are termed Phishing. Phishing attacks have been wreaking havoc on a global scale for almost as long as email itself has existed. Since 2020, due to a spike in email communications, the rate of phishing has also shot up, defrauding organizations, large and small, and making headlines every day. 

Phishing attacks can be categorized into Spear phishing, whaling, and CEO fraud, referring to the act of impersonating specific employees within an organization, decision-makers of the company, and the CEO, respectively.

4. Romance scams

The  Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) defines internet romance scams as “ scams that occur when a criminal adopts a fake online identity to gain a victim’s affection and trust. The scammer then uses the illusion of a romantic or close relationship to manipulate and/or steal from the victim.” 

Romance scams fall under the types of social engineering attacks since attackers use manipulative tactics to form a close romantic relationship with their victims before acting on their main agenda: i.e. scamming them. In 2021, Romance scams took the #1 position as the most financially damaging cyberattack of the year, closely followed by ransomware.

5. Spoofing

Domain spoofing is a highly evolved form of social engineering attack. This is when an attacker forges a legitimate company domain to send emails to customers on behalf of the sending organization. The attacker manipulates victims into believing that the said email comes from an authentic source, i.e. a company whose services they rely on. 

Spoofing attacks are hard to track since emails are sent from a company’s own domain. However, there are ways to troubleshoot it. One of the popular methods used and recommended by industry experts is to minimize spoofing with the help of a DMARC setup.

6. Pretexting

Pretexting can be referred to as a predecessor of a social engineering attack. It is when an attacker weaves a hypothetical story to back his claim of sensitive company information. In most cases pretexting is carried out via phone calls, wherein an attacker impersonates a customer or employee, demanding sensitive information from the company. 

What is a common method used in social engineering?

The most common method used in social engineering is Phishing. Let’s take a look at some statistics to better understand how Phishing is a rising global threat:

  • The 2021 Cybersecurity Threat Trends report by CISCO highlighted that a whopping 90% of data breaches take place as a result of phishing
  • IBM in their Cost of a Data Breach Report of 2021 delegated the title of most financially costing attack vector to phishing
  • With each year, the rate of phishing attacks has been found to increase by 400%, as reported by the FBI

How to protect yourself from Social Engineering attacks?

Protocols and tools you can configure: 

  • Deploy email authentication protocols at your organization like SPF, DKIM, and DMARC. Start by creating a free DMARC record today with our DMARC record generator.
  • Enforce your DMARC policy to p=reject to minimize direct domain spoofing and email phishing attacks
  • Make sure your computer system is protected with the help of an antivirus software

Personal measures you can take:

  • Raise awareness in your organization against common types of social engineering attacks, attack vectors, and warning signs
  • Educate yourself regarding attack vectors and types. Visit our knowledge base, enter “phishing” in the search bar, hit enter, and start learning today!  
  • Never submit confidential information on external websites
  • Enable caller ID identification applications on your mobile device
  • Always remember that your bank will never ask you to submit your account information and password via email, SMS, or call
  • Always recheck the mail From address and Return-path address of your emails to ensure that they are a match 
  • Never click on suspicious email attachments or links before being 100% sure about the authenticity of their source
  • Think twice before trusting people you interact with online and do not know in real life
  • Do not browse websites that are not secured over an HTTPS connection (e.g.