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Merchant Security Awareness

Staying secure: defending against data theft and social engineering

October 27, 2023
October 27, 2023
4 mins
Astor George
Astor George
Brand Storyteller

Editor's note:

Let’s unpack social engineering. This crafty term covers all sorts of strategies that exploit our social behaviour to nab sensitive data. Those scheming perpetrators have a whole bag of tricks that can be hard to spot.

Before we dive in, remember that it's not just malware we need to worry about nowadays – it's the human element. 

1. Think before you act:

Criminals have taken a liking to targeting us through employees in our organisations. Even management isn't immune to their shenanigans like phishing, where they send you deceptive emails that look innocent. But beware, even your coworker's email could be under siege. So, here's a rule of thumb: if someone's asking for your PIN, bank info, or login details, it's time to raise an eyebrow. 

2. Don’t let yourself be pressured:

Fake phone calls are another favourite trick of the trade. These con artists are masters at pretending to be from a legitimate organisation, spinning convincing stories, and applying a little pressure.

Now, when someone on the line or in your inbox starts sounding like they need your passwords ASAP, and they're making you feel like the hero of the hour, stop and think. Always give it a second thought before sharing sensitive information. Any genuine employee will understand that you need to play detective before you give out information. Don't let them rush you. Cybercriminals are sneaky, and they know our soft spots for being helpful, polite, and quick to follow orders. Let's not let them have all the fun.

3. Speak to other people:

Let's say you've just received a bizarre email, or someone's on the phone making you feel like you're in an episode of The Twilight Zone. You spot a stranger in the corridor who looks like they've lost their way. Don't just brush it off; ponder it for a moment. It's fantastic when you've got colleagues you can chat with about these oddities. Have they had similar experiences? Can they relate or help ease your concerns? Maybe they've got some advice up their sleeves. Talking it out with your work buddies can clear up these murky waters. Don't miss out on a chance to share your thoughts.

4. Report incidents:

And if you've ever encountered a phishing email, hung up on a peculiar phone call, or sent that mysterious loiterer at the entrance packing, don't keep it to yourself. We all get caught up in our busy work lives, but that's precisely when cyber tricksters strike. 

So, when you realise you've made a mistake, whether it's clicking on a shady link or letting a stranger through the door, don't be shy; report it pronto. Lapses in attention are part of being human. Make sure you let your organisation know so they can put their shields up and protect themselves.

Stay safe out there, and remember, a little caution goes a long way.