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Introduction

In cyber security, social engineering is the psychological manipulation of people causing them to reveal privileged information such as passwords or to perform malicious actions.

With security technologies becoming stronger by the day, many attackers instead hope they can exploit human psychology to persuade individuals to unwittingly hand over confidential information.

Social engineering is nothing new, as con artists have been using psychological manipulation to persuade people to take actions that may not be in their best interest since the earliest days of humankind.

Perhaps the most famous example comes from Greek mythology. The 'Trojan horse' fable tells of a long and unsuccessful siege on the city of Troy by the Greek army. The Greek army appears to finally give up the fight, leaving behind a giant wooden horse.

The Trojans watch the Greeks depart and wheel the horse inside the city gates. Little do they know that hidden inside are a small band of Greek soldiers. Overnight, while the Trojans sleep, they open the gates to city to let in the returning Greek army. Today "Trojan horse" is the term used for malware disguised as something harmless - often a key part of a social engineering subterfuge.

In this report we take a closer look at the situation as it stands. With social engineering attacks becoming more common and sophisticated we examine some commonly used techniques, predict what the future holds and, crucially, tell you what can you do to protect yourself.

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Social engineering attacks are becoming more common and sophisticated. Read the full Social engineering report, the latest in our Know your threats series to learn more.