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The proliferation of e-mail, social networking and other forms of electronic communication have made social hacking attacks on businesses more common and more dangerous.

Firewalls or other technical solutions do not help against this type of attack. But what exactly does social hacking mean? We would like to take this opportunity to explain in more detail what social hacking is and what dangers this type of attack poses to businesses.

Difference between Social Hacking and Social Engineering

Social Engineering Definition:

In the context of social hacking, you will often encounter the term social engineering attack. Social engineering (“social manipulation”) generally refers to the manipulation of humans. By exploiting certain human characteristics, one attempts to persuade a person to behave as desired by the attacker.

Social Hacking Definition:

Of Social Hacking is called when this method is used to penetrate a foreign computer system or network. After all, cybercriminals have realized that the best security technologies are of no help if the human vulnerability is not secured. For systems that are almost impossible to attack because of their technical security, cyber-criminals are using the world of social hacking to gain access.

How do cybercriminals attack the human operating system?

So what is social hacking exactly? We like to talk about social hacking about the “human operating system”. Because between a computer system and the human brain there are some connections or similarities. This also applies to their vulnerability by cybercriminals. The human operating system can be hacked just like a computer or network. Often even easier and faster!

While attacks on machines, for example, exploit security vulnerabilities, social hacking usually exploits human characteristics. These include, for example, trustauthority or curiosity. For experienced hackers, these features can provide access to your systems!

A small example:

A cybercriminal calls one of your employees and pretends to be an administrator in the IT department of the company. Previously, he has obtained information in social networks, which should help him to gain the trust of the employee. He opens the conversation by talking about the current project in the company. The employee, of course, assumes that the call is real. The cybercriminal is now demanding credentials of the employee he allegedly needs. A few technical terms and abbreviations can help confuse the employee. And he has already gained access to a system without much effort !

Conclusion: protection only by vigilant employees!

As you can see, at some point, the best security technologies do not help ! Especially social hacking is characterized by the fact that the risk of such an attack with technical support can hardly be counteracted. After all, your employees are attacked first and not any firewall.

Therefore, the only solution is to prepare your employees for such attack scenarios using training and security awareness training. Only then can they detect a social hacking attack and then react correctly.

In advance, it can make sense in many cases to use a simulated social hacking attack to find out how your employees react in such cases and where the security vulnerabilities are.

Social hacking has become a popular method of attack by cybercriminals. Exploiting the vulnerability of humans can generate high sums of unfair money. And the catch is: no firewall can help against this type of attack. Alone, alert employees who recognize the tricks and let them go into the void can reduce the risk. Therefore, lets discuss what types of social hacking you should know.

Phishing emails

Probably the best-known type of social hacking is phishing emails.  Every one of you may already have heard of it. But a surprising number of people are not aware of the full danger of latest phishing emails. We can not say it clearly enough: phishing mails are getting better and harder to recognize.

Phishing mails are fake emails used by attackers to gain access to the user’s personal information and commit identity theft. In doing so, human qualities such as trust, authority or simple curiosity are exploited. With a suitably prepared email, for example, a victim can be lured to a website where he can catch any kind of malware and even endanger the entire company.

An example:

cybercriminal plans to attack one of your employees by sending them a well-designed phishing mail. The cybercriminal has discovered in a social network that the administrator is enjoying his last vacation on the beach in the Caribbean and returning to work on Mondays. He uses this information skillfully to inspire confidence in the employee concerned.

He sends this e-mail on behalf of the administrator, which says that he has just returned from vacation and found that there are problems with the account of the employee. In addition, he uses some technical terms to make the deception as good and confusing as possible.

With a little luck, the employee falls for it and gives the cybercriminals important access data, which can then mercilessly exploit! In many cases, this method is combined with deceptively genuine and thus fake websites. Thousands of accounts and passwords are thrown daily with such sites.

A well-known example of such fraud is also the CEO Fraud , in which companies are manipulated using false identities and asked to transfer money.

Fake phone calls etc.

The above-mentioned principle of deception can basically be transferred. Even with a phone call, a cybercriminal can fool your employees. As mentioned earlier, a cyber criminal often tries to get information in preparation for an attack. With the right information, he may be able to exploit the confidence, curiosity, or even authority of an employee. Especially with larger organizations is no longer self-evident that you know each other personally. A cybercriminal might well pretend to be a supervisor in the company and get sensitive data or information, which he can then use for his own benefit.

You should not underestimate this danger either, as more and more information is available to cybercriminals today. If you do not exercise caution, you can quickly confuse a cybercriminal with an in-house person!


Believe that the cyber criminals of this world are not sleeping. Every day, new attacking methods are created that potentially endanger your business. There are different types of social hacking, but the principle remains the same. Maybe right now, a cybercriminal even has a new idea on how to exploit the human vulnerability!