Social Engineering and The Security Risks To Executives and Their Families

February 5, 2024

Social Engineering: Security Risks To Executives and Their Families

Social engineering, or “social hacking” is one of the many ways that bad actors collect sensitive information and use it for their own nefarious purposes. Many executives are unaware that when sensitive information is leaked, there is no complex computer hacking or password breach behind the leak itself. Instead, it was actually given up willingly, coerced out of the executive or family member. Bad actors have become increasingly articulate and persuasive in their attempts to cause harm to executives and their family members, often posing as someone trusted in order to acquire such information.

More troubling is that companies with robust cybersecurity protocols can still be fooled into giving up sensitive information. Social engineering is focused on tricking the mind, instead of your internal cybersecurity practices. Stay informed of the latest social engineering techniques and avoid extortion attempts and security risks that can spill beyond the workplace and into the home.

Emails From “Trusted” Sources

One of the most common tactics for engineering sensitive information out of an executive is through “phishing.” Bad actors may create an email account that looks very similar to one of a trusted coworker or family friend, requesting information such as passwords, and banking credentials, or encouraging you to click a dangerous hyperlink. 

Some social engineers may gather information on an executive’s inner circle in an attempt to create very convincing phishing emails, with the executive not even thinking twice about responding. When a nefarious email is sent, the only clue that it is not truly from a trusted source could be a subtle spelling error in the originating email address.

Targeting Your IT Department

IT departments for large corporations act as a vault of personal information on executive leadership and the entire workforce. From home addresses, social insurance numbers, and personal contact information, this information should never fall into the wrong hands. As such, IT departments must have strong cybersecurity practices in place, along with strong minds that are well aware of social engineering. 

By posing as a trusted vendor, IT partner, or internal employee, some staff may be fooled into giving access to your internal systems simply because the criminal was incredibly convincing over the phone or in person. Sometimes, the collaborative and helpful nature of your workforce may result in a cybersecurity breach that didn’t even require any specialized computer hacking skills, but instead just a very persuasive nature from an internal phone number. 

When large amounts of data fall into the wrong hands, it could be made available for sale on the dark web to the highest bidder. This may compromise the security of an executive’s home, result in trade secrets being made public, and cause endless embarrassment for the company itself.

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The Social Media Catfish

It’s far too easy for anyone with an email account to create a social media profile and pose as someone else. Criminals may attempt to “catfish” executives and their family members, posing as a potential romantic interest in an effort to gain personal information on their target. Sometimes, all it takes is a simple friend request to reveal endless personal photos and details about an executive’s family, which are then carefully examined for license plates and details that reveal home addresses.

When a fake social media account is engaged, innocent questions about what types of cars an executive owns or where they live can reveal bits of information that will later be used as part of a greater extortion attempt. In other cases, a catfish may ask questions in order to find answers to security questions to change your email password, breach your bank account, or access your corporate systems without ever walking into the building.

Preventative Social Engineering Solutions & Private Investigation Solutions Tools From AFIMAC Global

AFIMAC Global continues to serve executives throughout North America with security risks that are entirely unique to them. Should you or your business be a victim of social engineering, AFIMAC can step in to scrape social media and prevent these issues from ever happening again. We provide a unique blend of intelligence gathering, social listening, and executive protection services that can help any senior leadership team respond when there are concerns of extortion, cyber attack, or a leak of sensitive information.

AFIMAC Threat Risk Assessments can even scour the digital world to determine if personal details have found their way onto the dark web. We can carefully comb through thousands of social posts of family and friends, and actively work to scrub personal details off of social media before they fall into the wrong hands. Connect with us directly to learn more about the many offerings that include close protection security, protective drivers, and private investigation tools that ensure the safety of both your professionals and personal lives.

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