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  • Writer's pictureAline Silva | PhishX

Social engineering and phishing: What are they and how to protect yourself?

Cybersecurity is a topic that needs to be part of companies, as attacks have been increasing year by year and any security breach can put organizations at risk.

We know that criminals just need a chance. Whether it's through a malicious link or a message that catches people's attention, to be able to enter the system, steal information or apply scams.

Social engineering and phishing attacks are very common among businesses, and all of them are targeted at people.

Therefore, it is essential that everyone understands the risks of these attacks and how to protect themselves.

You need to understand that warnings of “don't click this” and be wary of suspicious messages are not effective and put your organization at risk. Want to know how to protect yourself? Keep reading this article and learn more.


To better understand what a social engineering attack and even phishing is, we need to keep in mind that attacks are often simpler than many people think.

In the real world, hackers usually don't execute far-fetched plans to break into the system. It just needs to convince a person to open an email, click on a link in a message, or even provide their information.

Once this is done, these criminals gain access to the systems and are able to hijack data, causing irreparable damage to companies.

Therefore, the lack of investment in cybersecurity creates several vulnerabilities in systems and loopholes for attacks to happen.

After all, there's no point in having a series of technologies that protect your systems if you don't take care of the people who are the front line of that protection.

Social engineering

Now that you understand where vulnerabilities come from, let's talk a little bit about what a social engineering attack actually is.

We can define it as content that induces people to perform dangerous actions, which can be:

  • Reveal confidential information;

  • Download a software;

  • Click on a link.

This is a manipulation technique that exploits vulnerabilities created by people, that is, it is used to take advantage of human errors.

Attacks often come in the form of suspicious emails or messages. Their goal is to lure people in, expose data, spread malware infections, or open access to restricted systems.

Social engineering and its attacks are based on people's behaviors. In this way, attackers understand what motivates the actions of a particular group of people and are able to manipulate them.

For example, in a company, they can forward emails related to promotions run on food apps, explaining that this is a company action and employees only need to click to activate the voucher.

People tend to believe that that message is true and, as a result, click on the link without even questioning it. This can cause enormous damage to the company, customers and the employee himself.

Therefore, when we talk about social engineering attacks, it is essential that people know the risks and know how to defend themselves, as a more attentive reading of email can mitigate the risks of an attack.

In addition, criminals take advantage of the lack of knowledge. That's because many people don't recognize certain threats, such as automatic downloads, and don't even realize they're being attacked.

Another point that should be paid attention to is with regard to our personal data. It's important for everyone to understand that they're valuable, so it's critical to protect them.

In this way, you avoid registering your information on websites without even knowing what the purpose is.

Types of attacks

You need to know that criminals act in a variety of ways. Because of this, there are numerous social engineering attacks. Let's introduce you to some of the most recurrent ones so you know how to identify them.



Perhaps the most well-known social engineering attack is phishing, a cybercrime where criminals pretend to be part of an institution to convince people to click on links or hand over their personal information.

These attacks often come via email, phone calls, or text messages. Hackers take advantage of communication tactics or use visual identities that refer to well-known companies.

It can come in two forms. The first is spam phishing, where a widespread attack is directed at a significant number of people. These are generic attacks that seek to catch unsuspecting people.

Spear phishing, on the other hand, uses personalized and specific information. They are targeted at predetermined victims and target people at high executive levels or even government officials.

Therefore, awareness needs to be part of every company, including people in higher positions, as criminals tend to attack from all sides.

Quid pro quo scams


Quid pro quo is a Latin expression that means “to take one thing for another.” When we talk about social engineering attacks, it means that you exchange personal information for some reward.


And this exchange can be done in several ways, such as:

  • Offers;

  • Sweepstakes;

  • Courses;

  • Research.


In this way, you offer your information to a website that you believe to be legitimate, and with that, your data is used to apply scams or commit invasions.

Baiting scams

This type of attack usually offers something for free or exclusively. This tends to pique people's curiosity and cause them to become infected with malware, unsecured software that can steal personal information or damage their devices.

These attacks can come in some forms, such as through infected USB sticks that can be made available in public places or even be gifted by someone.

Once logged into your device, criminals install software and are able to extract data used for financial gain.

Another form of this attack is email attachments with free offers, promotions, or even software, which trick the victim into installing these infected files.

Scareware attacks

This is also a form of malware: criminals use alarming messages to scare you into taking action and clicking on infected links.

Here's how it works: Hackers send messages reporting fake malware infections or that your accounts have been compromised. With this, they trick victims into purchasing fraudulent software or disclosing private details such as account credentials.

How to protect yourself?

To protect yourself from these attacks, it may seem like a simple action, such as not clicking on malicious links, not providing your information, or downloading unknown files, but this is more difficult than it seems.

People need to be aware and know how to recognize the risks. As we talked about throughout this text, it only takes one click for criminals to access the information and commit their crimes.

Therefore, it is essential to educate people so that they know how to protect themselves. There is no magic formula that mitigates the risks, other than education around cybersecurity.


How can PhishX help you?

PhishX is a SaaS ecosystem that brings security knowledge to everyone. Through our platform, it is possible to start the process of raising awareness around cybersecurity.

The only way to mitigate social engineering attacks is to strengthen the front line of security, which is people. They need to know how to protect themselves so that breaches are not created, and your company is not vulnerable.

Phishing Simulations

Phishing is one of the main forms of social engineering attack. Know that one of the main features of PhishX is the simulations of phishing attacks.


The platform allows companies to create realistic phishing scenarios, which are sent to employees and customers as controlled tests. These simulations help identify which people are most at risk of falling for this scam.


Phishing attack simulations allow companies to offer personalized training for their employees. This is because, based on the data, it is possible to create specific guidelines based on each person's vulnerabilities.

The training is usually very broad and has different content. This is because PhishX has a library full of materials that assist in the entire process of acculturation of each person.

In this way, employees receive tips on how to recognize phishing, malware, and other good security practices.

Triggering of announcements


Communications are important in the process of raising awareness of a company, because it facilitates the communication of all teams and makes the entire process more effective.

As we said, there are some threats directed at people in high places. That's why it's important that all employees are involved in the campaigns. Triggering communiqués helps with planning.


PhishX provides detailed reports that allow businesses to track awareness progress. This data helps the IT team to create more specific actions and campaigns that meet the pain of each sector.


Reports include:

  • Phishing detection rates;

  • Improvements over time;

  • Areas of concern.


This information is important for assessing the effectiveness of awareness strategies and making adjustments as needed.

Awareness is ongoing

It is necessary to understand that, just as the actions of criminals grow year by year, the actions against these crimes also need to be frequent. So this is an ongoing process and everyone's effort.

With PhishX, you can schedule regular phishing attack simulations and training, which ensures that employees' cybersecurity skills are always up-to-date.

PhishX is a powerful tool that can help businesses mitigate risks related to social engineering. By implementing our ecosystem, you can significantly reduce phishing attacks, the risks of data breaches, and protect your business.



Hand in front of a computer.
Social engineering cybercrimes are a risk to your organization.



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