While you create your fraud prevention strategy, you need to keep in mind that humans are often the weakest link. As fraud prevention and detection strategies get stronger, fraudsters have to find alternatives, and increasingly, they resort to social engineering.
Social engineering is just a fancy way to say tricking someone. For most scammers, it’s easier to trick someone into sharing their account details than it is to breach computer security. Nearly anyone can initiate a social engineering attack, but hacking has a steep learning curve.
To protect your financial institution and your customers from social engineering attacks, keep these tips in mind.
1. Educate your employees about the risks.
Employee education is a critical but often overlooked component of cyber security. To protect your bank from social engineering attacks, you have to educate your employees. Ensure that they’re aware of these threats and that they understand how the attacks play out.
Here’s a quick example. Imagine that a social engineer sends an email to someone on your accounting team. The scam artist pretends to be a bank manager, and they ask the employee to send a check to a certain vendor.
Unaware of the scam, the accounting employee cuts the check and sends it to the “vendor” who’s actually the scam artist. By the time you realize the error, the check has been cashed, and the funds are gone forever.
Alternatively, imagine that a scam artist pretends to be an IT repair person. They call an employee and claim they need their computer log-in details to fix a problem. The employee provides the details, and the scam artist uses that information to breach your bank’s network. Now they have access to all kinds of customer data.
To spot these attacks, employees have to be aware of them, and education plays a significant role in that process. Consider having monthly meetings to educate employees about the latest threats.
2. Initiate fake social engineering attacks.
Beyond just telling your employees about the risks, give them hands-on exposure by sending them fake attacks. When you send out fake attacks, you can see which employees are the most vulnerable. You can also see where to focus during your next employee education session. You can do this on your own or a cyber security specialist can help you.
3. Update your customer messaging.
Social engineering is one of the most prevalent ways thieves gain access to personal bank accounts. These attacks can take a broad range of forms. But as indicated above, they generally focus on getting accountholders to share information or take a certain action.
In most cases, your bank will not be liable for these losses, but it’s never in your best interest for your customers’ accounts to become overdrawn. Whenever that happens, there is a risk the customer will walk away, and you’ll be stuck with the losses.
To protect yourself and your customers, you need to educate them. But you can’t rely on static messaging. If customers see the same anti-fraud messages over and over, they’ll start to ignore the warnings. To keep their attention, you need to update your messaging on a regular basis.
4. Reach out to business clients.
Your business clients are especially susceptible to fraud, and that includes social engineering attacks. Make sure that you proactively reach out to these clients. Educate them about best practices.
Also, make sure that they receive unique education tailored to their situation. If you send business clients the same fraud detection messages that you send to individual customers, it won’t be as effective.
5. Encourage customers to report suspected attacks.
If you want to stay on top of the latest threats, encourage your customers to report suspected attacks. Many customers don’t realize how helpful these reports can be. They assume they don’t need to tell you if the attack wasn’t successful. However, you can use suspected attacks to learn more about how scam artists operate.
In particular, ask your customers to alert you about social engineering attacks that use your bank’s name. For example, some thieves may send your customers an email pretending to be from your bank. The email might say, “You’ve been the victim of fraud; sign in now to protect your account.” Ironically, social engineers often prey on people’s fear of fraud, while they’re initiating an attack.
But when the victim clicks on the link in the email, they aren’t taken to your site. Instead, they’re taking to a sham site designed by the scam artist. It looks just like your site so they enter their username and password. Then, the thief has their information and can access their account at any time.
If your customers alert you about these types of scams, you can pass the information to the authorities. You may also be able to get the sham sites removed from the internet.
6. Leverage cyber intelligence.
Scam artists are always improving. They must if they want to be successful. But they don’t work in silos. They often share information about their tactics and strategies on the dark web or in hacker forums.
To defend your bank and your customers against these attacks, you need to understand what the criminals are doing, and cyber threat intelligence can help. Cyber threat intelligence monitors public and private data sources to learn about the threats facing your bank and your customers.
7. Utilize intelligent fraud prevention tools.
Finally, you should ensure that the fraud detection and prevention tools you use are intelligent. Static tools that scan transactions for red flags based on preset parameters aren’t that effective against contemporary threats.
To give your bank and your customers the protection they deserve, you need intelligent tools that get to know your customers’ patterns. These tools can look for signs of fraud, account takeover, or other indications that your customers have fallen prey to a social engineering attack.
Bank fraud takes a wide variety of different forms. To reduce your risk of fraud, you need comprehensive tools and solutions that protect your bank from all kinds of risks. We can help. We can start with a review of your current anti-fraud processes, and then, we can guide you to the best solutions for your unique needs.