social engineering attacks

What is Social Engineering? Examples of attacks and prevention tips

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PUREVPNAwarenessWhat is Social Engineering? Examples of attacks and prevention tips

Social engineering is a technique used by attackers to exploit the trust of an individual or organization to steal information, credentials, or money. Attacks can be carried out through various methods, including phishing, vishing, and pretexting. In this post, we’ll look at some examples of social engineering attacks and provide prevention tips to help you stay safe online.

What is Social Engineering?

Social engineering is an attack that relies on tricking people into gaining access to sensitive information or systems. Attackers often pose as someone trusted, such as an IT support person, to get victims to reveal passwords or other sensitive data.

Types of Social Engineering attacks

There are many different ways that social engineering attacks can be carried out, but some common examples include phishing emails and phone calls.


Phishing is a type of social engineering attack that involves sending fake emails or text messages that appear to be from a trusted source. The goal is to trick the victim into clicking on a malicious link or attachment, which can then install malware or redirect them to a fake website where their personal information can be stolen.


Smishing is when someone tries to trick you into giving them personal information by sending you a text message that looks like it’s from a trusted source. They might pretend to be from your bank, credit card company, or government agency. They’ll usually ask you to click on a link or call a phone number.

If you do, they can steal your personal information, like your bank account number or your social security number. They might even try to get you to send them money.


A tailgating attack is a type of social engineering attack where an attacker gains access to a secured area by following someone who has proper access. This attack is often seen in office settings, where an attacker will track an employee into a secured area, such as a server room or executive office.

The attacker may also try to gain access by following delivery personnel or service providers who have a legitimate reason to be in the area.


Phone calls are another common type of social engineering attack. In this case, the attacker will pose as a customer service representative or another authority figure to try and get the victim to reveal personal information or sensitive data.

How does Social Engineering work?

Social engineering is a method of attack that relies on human interaction to trick people into revealing confidential information or performing actions that compromise security. Attackers use various techniques to exploit human psychology and trick victims into divulging sensitive information or performing actions that jeopardize security, such as clicking on a malicious link.

Examples of Social Engineering attacks

Here are the most popular social engineering attacks you should know:.

Spear-phishing attack on Hillary Clinton’s campaign

In 2016, Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign was the victim of a spear-phishing attack. The attacker sent emails purporting to be from Google to members of the campaign staff to trick them into clicking on a malicious link.

Once the victims clicked on the link, they were taken to a fake Google login page where the attacker attempted to steal their credentials. This attack highlights how spear-phishing can be used to exploit human vulnerabilities to gain access to sensitive information.

Deepfake attack on the UK energy company

In September 2018, a UK-based energy company was the victim of a deepfake social engineering attack. The attacker used a fake voicemail from the company’s CEO to trick an employee into transferring money to a fraudulent account.

This particular deepfake attack highlights how social engineering can be used to exploit human vulnerabilities to gain access to sensitive information or financial resources.

The US Department of Labor

In this attack, the attacker sends an email that looks like it’s from the US Department of Labor. The email claims that the recipient is eligible for a government grant. To claim the grant, the recipient is instructed to click on a link and provide personal information, such as their social security number. This attack is designed to trick people into giving up their data.

How to protect yourself from Social Engineering

There are a few simple steps that you can take to protect yourself from social engineering attacks:

  • Never click on links or attachments in emails or text messages unless you are sure they are safe. If you are unsure, it is best to err on the side of caution and not click on anything at all.
  • Do not give out personal information or passwords over the phone, even if the caller claims to be from a trusted company or organization. If you need to verify the caller’s identity, hang up and call the company or organization directly using a number that you know to be legitimate.
  • Be skeptical of unsolicited emails, text messages, or phone calls. Be very careful if someone contacts you out of the blue and asks for personal information or passwords. Verifying the person’s identity before giving out any information is best.
  • Suppose you think you may have fallen victim to a social engineering attack. In that case, it is essential to change your passwords immediately and run a security scan on your computer to check for malware. You should also contact your bank or credit card company if you think that your personal information may have been compromised.

By following these simple steps, you can help to protect yourself from social engineering attacks.


Sameed Ajax


July 18, 2023


11 months ago

6-Feet Tall Tech writer.

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