Book Image

Web Penetration Testing with Kali Linux 2.0, Second Edition

Book Image

Web Penetration Testing with Kali Linux 2.0, Second Edition

Overview of this book

Table of Contents (17 chapters)
Web Penetration Testing with Kali Linux Second Edition
About the Author
About the Reviewers

Social engineering attacks

The efforts that you put in to securing your computer devices using network firewalls, IPS, and web application firewalls are of little use if your employees easily fall prey to a social engineering attack. Security in computer systems is as strong as the weakest link and it only takes one successful social engineering attack on employees to bring an entire business down. Social engineering attacks can be accomplished using various means such as:

  • E-mail spoofing: Employees need to be educated to differentiate between legitimate e-mails and spoofed e-mails. Before clicking on any external links on e-mails, the links should be verified. Links in the e-mail have been favorite method to execute a cross-site scripting attack. When you click on the Reply button, the e-mail address in the To field should be the one that the mail came from and should be from a domain that looks exactly the same as the one that you were expecting the mail from. For example, [email protected] and [email protected] are entirely different e-mail accounts.

  • Telephone attacks: Never reveal any personal details on telephone. Credit card companies and banks regularly advice their customers the same and emphasize that none of their employees have been authorized to collect personal information such as username and password from customers.

  • Dumpster diving: Looking for information in the form of documents or flash drives left by users is known as dumpster diving. A logical design document that a user failed to collect from the printer, which contains detailed design of a web application, including the database server, IP addresses, and firewall rules, would be of great use to an attacker. The attacker now has access to the entire architecture of the web application and would be able to directly move to the exploitation phase of the attack. Clean desk policy should be implemented organization wide.

  • Malicious USB drives: Unclaimed USB drives left at a desk can increase the curiosity of the user who would waste no time in checking out the contents of the USB drive by plugging it into his computer. A USB drive sent as a gift would also trick the user. These USB drives can be loaded with malicious backdoors that connect back to the attackers machine.

Employees at every level in the organization, from a help desk representative to the CEO of the company, are prone to social engineering attacks. Each employee should be held accountable to maintain the integrity of the information that they are responsible for.

An attack on a big fish in an organization such as a CEO, CFO, or CISO is known as whaling. A successful attack on people holding these positions bring in great value, as they have access to the most sensitive data in the organization.

Training employees to defeat social engineering attacks

Regular training and employee awareness programs are the most efficient way to thwart social engineering attacks. Employees at every level need a separate level of training, which would depend on what data they deal with and the type of interaction they have with the end clients. IT helpdesk personnel who have direct interaction with end users need specific training on ways to respond to queries on the telephone. Marketing and sales representatives, who interact with people outside the organization, receive a large number of e-mails daily, and spend a good amount of time on the Internet, need special instructions and guidelines to avoid falling in the trap of spoofed e-mails. Employees should also be advised against sharing corporate information on social networks and only those approved by the senior management should do it. Using official e-mail addresses when creating accounts on online forums should be strongly discouraged, as it becomes one of the biggest sources of spam e-mails.