As social engineering attacks like vishing become more prevalent, many organizations are now asking, “what is vishing, and how can we prevent it?” Cybercriminals use phone calls and other vishing tactics to compromise sensitive data from unsuspecting individuals. Read on to learn more about these attacks and how to prevent them.
What is Vishing? A Primer to a Common Social Engineering Scam
Cybercriminals who deploy vishing attacks are motivated and have plenty of techniques to increase their chances of success. Staying informed about these attacks will help mitigate them from compromising your organization’s sensitive data. To that effect, this blog will cover:
- The definition of vishing in cybersecurity
- How to prevent vishing attacks
Protecting your sensitive digital assets from vishing attacks doesn’t stop at defining “what is vishing in cybersecurity?” By partnering with an incident management services provider, you will effectively develop and implement effective anti-vishing practices.
What is Vishing in Cybersecurity?
In cybersecurity, vishing is a type of phishing and is the short form for “voice phishing.”
Phishing attacks are the most common social engineering scams today, impacting many individuals and organizations caught unaware when these attacks unfold. Like other phishing attacks, vishing pretexts unsuspecting individuals into divulging sensitive information to a cybercriminal. When vishing perpetrators deploy these attacks, they leverage psychological tactics to convince their targets that these requests are legitimate.
Overall, vishing attacks are designed to manipulate human behavior based on emotions.
Understanding the psychology behind these attacks will help your organization effectively prevent vishing attempts from becoming serious threats.
Common Vishing Attack Scenarios
The best way to describe what is a vishing attack is to use examples of vishing scenarios.
Some vishing attacks are simple, whereas others are more nuanced and sophisticated. For instance, a perpetrator may call an employee in your organization pretending to be a remote support technician requesting access to a sensitive data environment. By creating a false sense of urgency (e.g., scaring the employee into believing there is a serious technical issue), a vishing attacker can successfully compromise your access controls and steal sensitive data.
In other instances, vishing attempts are more subtle. The attacker may call your unsuspecting employees and politely ask questions that reveal sensitive information. For example, the perpetrator may ask who is the best contact for a request to modify certain IT privileges.
Without knowing, an employee may share insider information that the vishing perpetrator can then use to deploy another more sophisticated phishing attack. And vishing attacks are not only targeted towards organizations. Many vishing perpetrators are interested in stealing personal information from individuals so they can access their finances or other sensitive data.
Best Practices for Mitigating Vishing Attacks
So, how can you stop vishing attacks from impacting your staff and the broader organization? The most effective vishing cyberdefenses improve security awareness, starting from your top-level executive leadership all the way to the most junior-level employees.
- Phone call requests for sensitive data, including:
- Personally-identifiable information (PII) (e.g., social security numbers, bank account information)
- User account IDs and passwords
- Corporate financial information
- Contact information for other staff in the organization
- A caller’s unusual sense of urgency
- Callers claiming to be Internal Revenue Service (IRS) or Social Security Administration (SSA) representatives
Even with security awareness training, vishing attacks can still be successful. Your organization is best protected when additional security controls are implemented to mitigate vishing attacks.
For instance, vishing attacks may be deployed simultaneously with other social engineering scams like email phishing, text message phishing (smishing), or whaling.
You can minimize the risks of these attacks becoming successful by:
- Conducting phishing simulation exercises (whether via email, voice, or text message) to help employees easily identify potential social engineering scams
- Deploying malware on devices with access to sensitive data environments
- Implementing strong access control measures (e.g., strong password use requirements, quarterly password resets)
Vishing perpetrators are typically persistent when looking to compromise sensitive data and may use various tactics and techniques to improve their odds of success. If your organization becomes a victim of a vishing attack, working with a security incident management partner will help you contain the threat before it impacts the rest of your digital infrastructure.
Develop Resilient Social Engineering Defenses
For your organization to develop cyber resilience against vishing and other social engineering attacks, you must understand what you’re up against. A great place to start is to ask, “what is vishing and how can you prevent it?” Another way is to trust an incident management specialist like RSI Security to provide guidance on best practices for mitigating vishing attacks.
To learn more and get started, contact RSI Security today!