Identify Social Engineering Attacks
Can you identify different types of social engineering attacks in the Security+ exam?
The Security+ exam expects you to be able to analyze and differentiate different types of social engineering attacks, including shoulder surfing, dumpster diving, tailgating, impersonation, hoaxes, whaling, phishing, and vishing. You might even see a performance based question related to these types of attacks.
Social engineering is the practice of using social tactics to gain information. It’s often low-tech and encourages individuals to do something they wouldn’t normally do, or cause them to reveal some piece of information, such as their user credentials.
Some of the individual methods and techniques include:
- Flattery and conning
- Assuming a position of authority
- Encouraging someone to perform a risky action
- Encouraging someone to reveal sensitive information
- Impersonating someone, such as an authorized technician
- Tailgating or closely following authorized personnel without providing credentials
Performance Based Questions
Topics such as identifying attacks are ideally suited for the new performance based questions on the CompTIA Security+ exam. Instead of answering a multiple choice question, you might need to identify an attack and match it to the most likely target. If you’re unfamiliar with the new performance based questions, check out these blogs too:
- CompTIA Performance Based Testing
- Security+ and Performance Based Questions
- Security+ WAP Performance Based Questions
- Security+ Forensic Performance Based Question
- Security+ Match Device Controls
- Security+ Identify Smurf Attacks
- CompTIA Testing Changes
Matching Attacks Practice Question
The following table includes three columns: attack methods, attack targets, and attack types. However, they are jumbled and not in the correct order.
Would you be able to rearrange the items in the table so that each attack method is matched to the appropriate attack target and attack type? Each attack method, attack target, and attack type is used only once so your solution needs to ensure that all choices are used.
|Attack Methods||Attack Targets||Attack Types|
Internet Web Page
CompTIA Security+: Get Certified Get Ahead: SY0-401 Study Guide
Phishing and Whaling
Phishing is the practice of sending e-mail to users with the purpose of tricking them into revealing personal information or clicking on a link. A phishing attack will often send the user to a malicious website that appears to the user as a legitimate site.
The classic example is where a user receives an e-mail that looks like it came from eBay, PayPal, a bank, or some other well-known company. The “phisher” doesn’t know if the recipient has an account at the company, just as a fisherman doesn’t know if any fish are in the water where he casts his line. However, if the attacker sends out enough e-mails, the odds are good that someone who receives the e-mail has an account.
Whaling is a form of spear phishing that attempts to target high-level executives.
As an example, attackers singled out as many as twenty thousand senior corporate executives in a fine-tuned whaling attack a few years ago. The e-mails looked like official subpoenas requiring the recipient to appear before a federal grand jury and included the executive’s full name and other details, such as their company name and phone number.
The e-mails also included a link for more details about the subpoena. If the executives clicked the link, it took them to a website that indicated they needed a browser add-on to read the document. If they approved this installation, they actually installed a keylogger and malware. The keylogger recorded all their keystrokes to a file, and the malware gave the attackers remote access to the executive’s systems.
Similar whale attacks have masqueraded as complaints from the Better Business Bureau or the Justice Department. Executives are sensitive to issues that may affect the company’s profit, and these attacks often get their attention.
This blog also covers phishing, spear phishing, and whaling.
Vishing attacks use the phone system to trick users into giving up personal and financial information. It often uses Voice over IP (VoIP) technology and tries to trick the user, similar to how other phishing attacks try to trick the user. When the attacker uses VoIP, it can spoof the caller ID, making it appear as though the call came from a specific company.
In one form of a vishing attack, a person receives a phone message indicating they need to call about one of their credit cards, and the message provides a phone number. In another form, the person receives an e-mail with the same information.
If the person returns the call, an automated recording gives some vague excuse about a policy and then prompts the user to verify their identity. One by one, the recording prompts the user for information like name, birthday, Social Security number, credit card number, expiration date, and so on. Once the person provides the information, the recording indicates the account is verified. What really happened, though, is that the person just gave up some important data to a criminal.
Rogueware (or scareware) is a type of Trojan that masquerades as a free antivirus program. When a user visits a site, a message on the web page or a popup appears indicating it detected malicious software (malware) on the user’s system. The user is encouraged to download and install free antivirus software. Users that take the bait actually download and install malware.
After a user downloads it and starts a “system scan,” it will report that it has located malware and pop up an official looking warning. In reality, it doesn’t scan for malware and will always reports bogus infections.
If users try to remove the threats, they are informed that this is only the trial version, and the trial version won’t remove any threats. However, for the small fee such as $79.95, users can unlock the full version to remove the threats. Many people pay. Panda security reported that criminals took in an average of $34 million a month in recent years.
This blog also covers rogueware.
Matching Attacks Practice Question Answer
The following table shows the attack methods, attack targets, and attack types in the correct order.
- Whaling is a targeted phishing email sent to CEOs and other senior executives.
- Vishing is a type of phishing attack using a phone.
- Rogueware is bogus antivirus software downloaded by unsuspecting users from a website.
|Attack Methods||Attack Targets||Attack Types|
Internet Web Page
CompTIA Security+: Get Certified Get Ahead- SY0-401 Practice Test Questions [Paperback] CompTIA Security+ SY0-401 Practice Test Questions (Get Certified Get Ahead) [Kindle] On your mobile phone
Summary -Identify Social Engineering Attacks
Ensure you understand the basics of social engineering attacks when taking any security-based exam such as the Security+, SSCP, or CISSP exams. Whaling is a targeted phishing attack against CEOs and other senior executives. Vishing is a type of phishing attack that uses phones. Rogueware is bogus antivirus software that a user can download from a webpage on the Internet.
Other Security+ Study Resources
- Security+ blogs organized by categories
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- Security+ blogs on new performance-based questions
- Mobile Apps: Apps for mobile devices running iOS or Android
- Audio Files: Learn by listening with over 6 hours of audio on Security+ topics
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- Quality Practice Test Questions: Over 300 quality Security+ practice test questions with full explanations
- Full Security+ Study Packages: Quality practice test questions, audio, and Flashcards
4 thoughts on “Identify Social Engineering Attacks”
Hi Darril, I hope you receive this message. I have purchased and read your book, I enjoyed it and found it very informative. I do have one question though.
If a social engineering attack was in this form:
Phone call directed specifically at a CEO ….. Would this be Vishing or Whaling? Everything I have found states whaling uses email / web as a medium .. but if the vishing attack was specifically targetting a CEO im unsure what heading this would fall under.
Thanks for your assistance and again, I enjoyed reading your book a great deal. Taking the test in a weeks time.
Glad you enjoyed the book.
I haven’t seen anywhere where whaling is anything other spam targeting executives such as CEOs so I would call this vishing.
Good luck on the exam.
Hello Mr. Gibson,
Will your CompTIA Security+: Get Certified Get Ahead- SY0-301 Practice Test Questions Publication Date: September 15, 2011 include Performance Based Questions? if not, where can I find the latest version of this book?
I’m not aware of any book that has performance based questions. What you really need is to understand the content and you’ll be able to answer the questions no matter how CompTIA asks them. That book is still relevant for someone that has studied the content and are now focused on just testing their readiness with some questions.
Many people have successfully passed the exam the first time after using this book CompTIA Security+: Get Certified Get Ahead: SY0-301 Study Guide, which is a full study guide. It explains the relevant objectives at the level that you need, including the performance based question described in this blog.
You can supplement your studies with blogs listed here: https://blogs.getcertifiedgetahead.com/security-blog-links/#Performance.