Have you ever received a message or phone call from an unknown number claiming to be your bank requesting that you send an OTP to reactivate your supposed blocked account or your card information? In that instance, you probably wondered how they could get a hold of your Personal Identifiable Information (PII). Well, the answer is simple, it’s social engineering. How does social engineering work?
Grab your seat and popcorn, let’s walk you through it.
On Monday, July 17th, 2022, the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) declared Ademola Adeleke the Governor-Elect of Osun State after scoring a majority of votes in the governorship election in the state.
Around 10:17 PM that same day, Chikodili received a viral Whatsapp BC, claiming Ademola Adeleke was giving out 20,000NGN (~$30) appreciation packages to Nigerians.
Upon clicking the link in the WhatsApp BC, she was asked to provide her Full Name, State of Origin and Phone Number.
She inputted dummy data and got a congratulatory message. To her surprise, she needed to provide even more information about her preferred political party, marital status, and current need in order to move to the next stage.
Upon providing the requested information, she was able to proceed. Whew, she was closer getting 20,000NGN. To her dismay, the amount had changed to 10,000NGN but half bread is better than none right? All she had to do now was to invite 15 Whatsapp friends or 5 groups to access it.
In essence, this step forwards the initial BC to other unsuspecting individuals. Afterwhich the “Get withdrawal code” button will become active. Even better, the support fund was going to be sent weekly. She got a bit skeptical but as she scrolled down, there were so many positive reviews.
At this point, she was convinced so she forwarded it to her close friends and family. Finally, the “Get Withdrawal” button” was now clickable. She clicked it and got to the final step.
Savings or Current? She was super excited and got her fingers ready to drop her AZA (account number). She clicked the “Savings account” button and ended up on a marketing landing page.
What?! She was furious.
She had divulged her confidential information only to get nothing in return. In her rage, she went back to check the reviews and realized the credit alert she saw earlier was from the future (8th March 2023).
At this point, Chikodili realized she had just become a victim of social engineering.
Within the context of information security, social engineering is the use of deception tactics to manipulate individuals into divulging confidential or personal information that may be used for fraudulent purposes.
Social engineers manipulate human feelings, such as greed, curiosity, or fear to carry out schemes and draw victims into their traps. Therefore, be wary whenever you are attracted to an offer displayed on social media platforms or via a website.
Being alert can help you protect yourself against most social engineering attacks in today’s digital realm.