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The Importance of Remote and Onsite Social Engineering Testing for Your Organization

By TraceSecurity

June 2023

In today's digital age, companies worldwide face a constant barrage of cyberthreats ranging from zero-day exploits to distributed denial-of-service attacks. While cybercriminals continue to refine their tactics, they've also refined their attacks on the human element. Ever-increasingly, organizations have recognized the significance of proactive measures to address these evolving threats. One such measure is social engineering testing, a vital component of an effective cybersecurity posture.

What Is Social Engineering?

Social engineering is the art of manipulating people into divulging sensitive information or granting unauthorized access to systems, networks or facilities. It exploits the human factor, often the weakest link in an organization's security posture. In addition, cybercriminals use tactics such as phishing, pretexting and impersonation to deceive their targets.

The Importance of Remote and Onsite Social Engineering Testing

Both remote and onsite social engineering testing are crucial components of a robust security program. They help organizations test existing controls, identify vulnerabilities and strengthen their defenses against social engineering attacks.

Remote Social Engineering Testing

Remote social engineering testing focuses on simulating attacks originating from outside the organization. Examples include phishing emails, vishing (voice phishing) calls, and malicious websites utilizing websites commonly visited by employees, also called watering holes. These tests mimic real-world scenarios to assess employees’ susceptibility to social engineering attacks. Additionally, as these tests are conducted remotely, organizations can better adapt service agreements to meet a higher testing frequency with minimal financial impact.

Key benefits of remote social engineering testing include:

  1. Identifying Vulnerabilities: Remote testing highlights weaknesses in an organization's security measures, such as inadequate security awareness training, insufficient email filters or weak password policies. By uncovering these vulnerabilities, organizations can prioritize their efforts to address the most pressing risks.
  2. Employee Awareness: Frequent remote testing improves employees’ ability to recognize common social engineering tactics and improves their familiarity with handling these attacks. Additionally, it reinforces the importance of adhering to the organization's security policies and procedures.
  3. Regulatory Compliance: Many industries require organizations to conduct social engineering testing as part of their compliance programs. Regular remote testing helps maintain compliance with these regulations and avoid potential penalties.

Onsite Social Engineering Testing

Onsite social engineering testing simulates attacks initiated from within the organization. It focuses on vulnerabilities in physical security, internal systems and employee behavior. Examples include unauthorized access to restricted areas, tailgating and impersonating a colleague or service provider.

Key benefits of onsite social engineering testing include:

  1. Identifying Security Gaps: Onsite testing reveals weaknesses in an organization's physical security measures, such as lax access controls or inadequate visitor management. These findings can help prioritize investments in security infrastructure and policies.
  2. Reinforcing a Security Culture: Regular onsite testing promotes a culture of vigilance among employees, fostering a sense of collective responsibility for the organization's security. It also helps employees understand the potential consequences of falling victim to a social engineering attack.
  3. Reducing Insider Threats: Employees with malicious intent pose a significant risk to an organization's security. Onsite social engineering testing can help identify potential insider threats, enabling organizations to take appropriate action.

To learn more, connect with TraceSecurity.

About TraceSecurity

TraceSecurity has provided over 30,000 examiner approved reports, helping credit unions of all sizes maintain compliance year after year. A CUNA Strategic Services provider since 2006, TraceSecurity helps credit unions with a range of cybersecurity services, including risk assessments, penetration testing and IT audits. With a combination of software and services, TraceSecurity can help credit unions manage their information security program and supplement it with third-party validation.