Sophos: Social engineering on the rise

Humans remain the weakest link when it comes to IT security

Whether as home users or office workers, humans remain the weakest link when it comes to IT security. Sophos expects hackers to exploit this fact and predicts social engineering to rise in 2007.

"The biggest problem in 2006 was not how we upgrade an OS (operating system) or browsers, but how we upgrade people's brains -- their knowledge in computing," said Graham Cluley, senior technology consultant for security solutions provider Sophos during a recent briefing here.

Cluley said this applies not only to home users but also for business users, such that even when people are hit badly or have come across various kind of 'malware' already, they still have the tendency to be careless in what they click on or download from the Internet.

Social engineering has become a household term for quite some time already as hackers and spammers have increasingly used creative means to build on human vulnerability through appealing to the emotion or picking their curiosity enticing them to click on links, download stuff, or give out vital information, which then contains malicious programs that steals information and gives hackers access to users' emails and online bank accounts.

"The problem really is how we could get the users to act sensibly and think before they click; it's not something that technology can solve," Cluley said.

He said further that "computer common sense" does not seem to be very common after all. This is, however, understandable because PCs are very complicated especially for the home users, he noted.

More focused

One trend that Sophos has observed of late is that attacks are becoming more focused.

In China, for example, more than 50 percent of computer malware is designed to steal passwords mostly for online games. In Brazil, on the other hand, 78 percent is designed to steal banking passwords or 'phishing.'

Sophos says it has detected a rise in Christmas-related spam.

A very recent spam email the company detected contains links to pornographic videos, which prompts Mozilla Firefox users to switch to Microsoft Internet Explorer then, once the user clicks on the link, a Trojan horse is loaded onto the PC, taking advantage of an IE vulnerability.

"Social engineering is really a technique that will work for a very long time against people; it will always be a problem all we can do is educate and raise awareness on security issues," Cluley said.

He added that more spammers and hackers are increasingly doing it for profit and not merely as a hobby or in order to gain notoriety because "people realize it's a physically easier task than robbing a bank."

Join the newsletter!

Error: Please check your email address.
Rocket to Success - Your 10 Tips for Smarter ERP System Selection
Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

Jenalyn M. Rubio

Show Comments


James Cook University - Master of Data Science Online Course

Learn more >


Sansai 6-Outlet Power Board + 4-Port USB Charging Station

Learn more >



Back To Business Guide

Click for more ›

Most Popular Reviews

Latest Articles


PCW Evaluation Team

Louise Coady

Brother MFC-L9570CDW Multifunction Printer

The printer was convenient, produced clear and vibrant images and was very easy to use

Edwina Hargreaves

WD My Cloud Home

I would recommend this device for families and small businesses who want one safe place to store all their important digital content and a way to easily share it with friends, family, business partners, or customers.

Walid Mikhael

Brother QL-820NWB Professional Label Printer

It’s easy to set up, it’s compact and quiet when printing and to top if off, the print quality is excellent. This is hands down the best printer I’ve used for printing labels.

Ben Ramsden

Sharp PN-40TC1 Huddle Board

Brainstorming, innovation, problem solving, and negotiation have all become much more productive and valuable if people can easily collaborate in real time with minimal friction.

Sarah Ieroianni

Brother QL-820NWB Professional Label Printer

The print quality also does not disappoint, it’s clear, bold, doesn’t smudge and the text is perfectly sized.

Ratchada Dunn

Sharp PN-40TC1 Huddle Board

The Huddle Board’s built in program; Sharp Touch Viewing software allows us to easily manipulate and edit our documents (jpegs and PDFs) all at the same time on the dashboard.

Featured Content

Product Launch Showcase

Latest Jobs

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?