The metaverse is continually growing, with many users joining the space. Unfortunately, the increasing number of individuals in that space, the more it gets vulnerable to social engineering attacks. Also, since most users are still learning the concept of this technology, they are more prone to scams and frauds. So, what exactly is social engineering and what methods do the attackers use? Please read on to find out.
What is Social Engineering?
This is a broad term used to refer to a variety of malicious activities accomplished through the use of psychological manipulation. The users are thus vulnerable to tricks that have them give away their sensitive information to attackers.
In some cases, the social engineering perpetrator investigates their victim on target, gathering as much information about them as possible, especially those dealing with security protocols. After he has the information, the attacker will work to get the victim’s trust, after which he stimulates the person to reveal sensitive information or give them access to very critical resources or data.
Remember, in social engineering, the software or operating system of a device does not have to be vulnerable for the attacker to succeed. Rather, it is based on human interaction. It plays with human psychology and takes advantage of the mistakes made by the right users.
Techniques of Social Engineering Attacks
The following are some common forms of social engineering;
This is a case where the attacker presents false alarms and threats to the victim. He can deceive a user into believing their system has malware, and they need software installation that could either be non-beneficial or malware infested.
The perpetrator may offer to install the tool for the victim, or direct him to a suspicious site, in the end, the device gets infected.
This is the most common form of social engineering attack. Phishing is where the attackers send emails and text messages to potential victims, prompting them to act with urgency, creating curiosity in them, and at times may even instil fear in the users. It could be an email informing them they’ve gone contrary to a certain policy and that immediate action is necessary. Other times they are lured to believe their bank account information has been tampered with and needs correction.
As you may expect, the target will tend to follow the instructions, acting promptly to help salvage the “situation”. By so doing, they end up revealing their personal information or any sensitive details. Besides, they can even click on links that lead to suspicious websites.
In other cases, a user may be presented with an attachment, only to end up installing malware on their device.
In this kind of phishing, the attacker picks a specific individual as the target. He can then customize the email or text message depending on the potential victim’s job position or contacts. This way, it is less easy to detect phishing.
Remember, a perpetrator that pulls out this form of phishing puts in a lot of time and effort. The harder the effort and time put in, the harder it is for the victim to detect it is phishing.
In this case, the assaulter creates bait for the victim, and out of greed or curiosity, the target will fall. They set a trap that lures the user into giving out their personal information after which they steal the details. Remember, these baiting attacks can be physical or even online.
A user may be busy buying or even selling online, then sees an ad, after which he becomes curious, clicks on it, and the results? He will land on a malicious site or even be enticed to download an application that is already infected with malware.
How can they physically achieve the same result? These attackers could probably set the bait as a flash drive that is already infected with malware in an area where the target will see it. Due to curiosity the potential victim will fall for the bait, take it and insert it into a computer.
Whether the user inserts it into a device at work or home, the result is a malware installation.
Social Engineering Attacks and the Metaverse
The metaverse has several emerging technologies. Unfortunately, researchers point out that it could be vulnerable to domination by social engineering attacks. Why is the metaverse at risk? It offers a virtual world and a 3D environment facilitating social connections, both for personal and work-related reasons. Remember, as earlier mentioned, social engineering takes advantage of such human interactions.
Moreover, since someone in the metaverse may link their identity to a crypto wallet, smart contract, or non-fungible tokens (NFTs), an attacker may steal the information through social engineering.
Sadly, the perpetrators have already gotten their foot into the metaverse space. For instance, OpenSea users experienced phishing after they were lured into signing malicious contract transactions and ending up giving out their NFTs.
Also, the use of Ethereum Name Service (ENS) and any other similar service, puts users at risk of attack. They utilize these services to keep their wallet addresses in formats they can easily remember, but the attackers could use them as leverages in phishing. What’s more, the domains could be owned by third parties, not the companies with the trademarks. You may never know what their clear intentions are.
Nonetheless, other domain users may use anonymous addresses and signal to others the funds one has in their crypto accounts. This increases the chances of such individuals being targets. Furthermore, others give out their full names, details about their towns, or even social media profiles. With such details, an attacker has a broader picture of his potential victim and easily determines the perfect social engineering technique to use on him.
Remember, the more innovative technology gets, the more skilled the attackers get, and the more advanced their techniques are.
Social Engineering Dominating the Metaverse
Unfortunately, some metaverse users are not yet well conversant with how the technology works. This increases their risk of becoming victims of social engineering attacks. The metaverse has already experienced wallet cloning, and this can get intense and be one of the common methods of attack in the future. Therefore, users should be alert not to be tricked by verification processes that are not authentic. There are increasing threats in the metaverse. Therefore, make it your goal to familiarize yourself with the technology and manage your passwords so you don’t fall victim to a social engineering attack.
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