Blog, Cyber - July 24, 2023
Understanding and Insuring Social Engineering
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In today’s digital world, cyber threats are constantly evolving, and social engineering has emerged as a prominent method used by cybercriminals to exploit human vulnerabilities.

Understanding social engineering and its potential impact is crucial for individuals and businesses. In this blog, we’ll explore what social engineering entails, its relevance to cyber crime insurance, and the measures required to maintain a valid insurance cover.


What is social engineering?

Social engineering refers to the manipulation of individuals to deceive them into revealing sensitive information, performing actions, or compromising security measures. It exploits human psychology, trust, and social norms to gain unauthorised access to systems, networks, or data.

Cybercriminals employ various techniques such as impersonation, phishing, baiting, and pretexting, to exploit individuals and their weaknesses:

Phishing – Attackers send fraudulent emails, messages, or websites that appear legitimate, to trick recipients into revealing personal information such as passwords, credit card details, or log-in credentials. These messages often create a sense of urgency or fear to prompt immediate action.

Pretexting – Attackers create a false scenario or pretext to manipulate victims into revealing sensitive information. They may impersonate a trusted individual or organisation, such as a bank representative or IT support personnel, to gain the victim’s trust and obtain confidential data.

Baiting – Attackers tempt victims with an enticing offer or promise, such as downloads, discounts, or rewards. The bait may come in the form of a physical device (e.g. a USB drive) infected with malware, or a link that, once clicked, installs malicious software on the victim’s device.

Impersonation – Attackers assume the identity of a trusted person or entity to manipulate victims. This can occur through various means, such as phone calls, emails, or in-person interactions. The attacker may pose as a colleague, a superior, a customer, or a law-enforcement officer to deceive victims into disclosing sensitive information or performing certain actions.


The impact of social engineering

Social engineering attacks exploit the human factor, making it a significant concern for individuals and organisations alike. Such incidents can have severe consequences, ranging from financial loss and data breaches to reputational damage. This can lead to unauthorised access to sensitive data, financial fraud, identity theft, and even business disruption.


Insuring against social engineering

As the threat landscape evolves, insurers have recognized the need for specialised coverage against social engineering attacks. Cyber crime insurance policies are designed to mitigate financial losses resulting from cyber incidents, including those stemming from social engineering. But cover for social engineering attacks isn’t always automatically included in a standard policy, and specific endorsements may be required.


Measures for maintaining valid insurance cover

First, you need to check that your Cyber & Data insurance includes cover for social engineering in the first place – it often has to be added as an optional extension, sometimes referred to as ‘cyber crime’.

Then, to ensure your insurance policy covers social engineering incidents and remains valid, the following measures are typically required:

Risk assessment

Conduct a thorough assessment of your organisation’s vulnerabilities and potential exposure to social engineering attacks. Understand the different attack possibilities and identify areas that require mitigation.

Security awareness training

Develop regular training programmes to educate employees about social engineering techniques and how to recognize and respond to potential threats. This helps build a security-conscious culture and reduces the likelihood of successful attacks.

Incident response plan

Create a comprehensive incident response plan that includes specific protocols for responding to social engineering attacks. This plan should outline the steps to be taken during an incident, including communication, containment, investigation, and recovery.

Multi-factor authentication (MFA)

Implement MFA wherever possible to add an additional layer of security. This way, even if an attacker obtains a user’s credentials, they would still need an additional factor to gain access.

Regular policy review

Periodically review your cyber crime insurance policy to ensure it adequately covers social engineering incidents. Work with your insurance broker or provider to understand the policy’s terms, conditions, and any additional endorsements or riders required to address social engineering risks.


Safeguard your business with RiskBox

Social engineering is a prevalent and constantly evolving cyber threat that exploits human vulnerabilities. While it’s challenging to completely prevent social engineering attacks, individuals and businesses can take proactive steps to mitigate the risk and protect themselves.

Obtaining a comprehensive cyber crime insurance policy that covers social engineering incidents, coupled with the implementation of robust security measures and regular training, can significantly enhance an organisation’s resilience against such attacks.


Stay informed, stay vigilant, and take the necessary precautions to safeguard against social engineering threats. If you’d like further guidance on this topic, speak to RiskBox on 0161 533 0411 or fill in our contact form and we’ll get back to you.


Photo by Towfiqu barbhuiya on Unsplash

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