5 Types of Social Engineering Attacks and How to Prevent Them

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September 26, 2021

As its name implies, baiting attacks begin by using a false promise to pique a victim’s greed or curiosity. Consequently, they lure users with this allure, leading them into a trap that either steals their personal information or inflicts their systems with malware.

Often termed as ‘social engineering,’ it encompasses a range of malicious behaviors rooted in human interactions. Leveraging psychological tricks, it cunningly persuades users to either make security blunders or unwittingly divulge critical information.

What is a social engineering attack?

Social engineering attacks are carried out via a series of steps. To carry out the attacks, a perpetrator first examines the intended victim to obtain background information such as possible avenues of entry and weak security mechanisms. The attacker then works to acquire the victim’s trust and give stimuli for further acts that violate security protocols, such as exposing sensitive data or granting access to crucial resources.

How do Social Engineering Attacks Happen?

It relies on human error rather than software or operating system flaws. Legitimate user errors are less predictable, making them more challenging to detect and prevent than malware-based intrusions. It is particularly very harmful. There are some types of social engineering attacks. Some of the social engineering examples are listed below.

Importance of Social Engineering

Types of Social Engineering Attacks


As its name suggests, baiting attacks start off with a false promise, aiming to pique a victim’s greed or curiosity. Following this, they cunningly lure users, leading them into a trap that either siphons off their personal information or subjects their systems to malware.

Also read: How to Keep your Social Media Accounts Safe from Hackers


Deception software, rogue scanning software, and fraud ware are all used to describe scareware. The victims of scareware are assaulted with false alerts and bogus threats. Users are duped into believing their system is infected with malware, prompting them to install software that has no purpose (other than to benefit the offender) or is malware.


“Initially, an attacker gathers information by telling a series of carefully constructed lies. Subsequently, a perpetrator may initiate the scam by professing to need sensitive information from a victim. This is often framed as a crucial step to complete an essential assignment.


Social engineering phishing scams or attacks, which are email and text message campaigns aiming to instill a sense of urgency, curiosity, or terror in victims, are among the most common social engineering attack types. It then pressures people to disclose personal information, visit fraudulent websites, or open malware-infected attachments.

Spear phishing

This is a more focused variation of the phishing scam, in which the perpetrator targets specific people or businesses. They then personalize their messages based on their victims’ traits, work titles, and contacts to make their attack less obvious.

Checkout: What are Some Risks and Benefits of Performing Penetration Testing?

Types of Social Engineering Attacks (1)

How to prevent social engineering?

Social engineers use human emotions such as curiosity and terror to carry out schemes and lure victims into their traps. As a result, be cautious if you receive an alarming email, an enticed by a website’s offer, or come across stray digital media lying around. Being vigilant can help you avoid most social engineering assaults that take place online.

Below are ways how to prevent social engineering

  • Do not open emails or attachments from unknown senders.
  • Multifactor authentication should be used.
  • Be cautious of seductive and alluring offers.
  • Make sure your antivirus and antimalware software are up to date.

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1. What are the 3 types of social engineering attack?

    • Phishing, baiting, and tailgating.

2. What is the most common type of social engineering attack?

    • Phishing.

3. What is social engineering and its types?

  • Social engineering is a method where attackers manipulate individuals into divulging confidential information. Its types include phishing, baiting, tailgating, pretexting, and quizzing.

4. What are the two major forms of social engineering attacks?

  • Phishing and pretexting.

5. What types of social engineering attacks are prevalent in cyber security?

  • Common types include phishing, baiting, pretexting, and tailgating.

6. Can you give some examples of social engineering attacks?

  • Examples include phishing emails prompting password resets, baiting via free USB drives containing malware, and pretexting by pretending to be IT support asking for credentials.

7. How is social engineering used in cyber security?

  • In cyber security, social engineering is recognized as tactics where attackers manipulate individuals into divulging confidential information or performing specific actions that may compromise security.

8. Are there any real-life examples of social engineering attacks?

  • Yes, real-life examples include targeted phishing emails within a company, attackers posing as contractors to gain physical access to facilities, and fake customer support scams asking for personal data.

9. What is pretexting in terms of social engineering?

  • Pretexting involves creating a fabricated scenario or pretext to obtain information from a target. For instance, someone might pose as a bank representative to gather personal information from an individual.

10. How are social engineering attacks best identified?

  • Social engineering attacks are best identified by recognizing suspicious requests for information, unexpected attachments, too-good-to-be-true offers, and inconsistencies in communication sources or styles.

11. What do you mean by baiting in social engineering?

  • Baiting involves offering something enticing to a victim to lure them into a trap. An example is offering a “free” USB drive, which, when plugged in, installs malware onto the user’s system
Noor Khan

Noor Khan


My name is Noor, and I am a seasoned entrepreneur focused on the area of artificial intelligence. As a robotics and cyber security researcher, I love to share my knowledge with the community around me.

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