In recent years, social engineering attacks have become increasingly prevalent and sophisticated. These attacks use psychological and pressure manipulation to trick individuals into divulging… Read more on Cisco Blogs

In recent years, social engineering attacks have become increasingly prevalent and sophisticated. These attacks use psychological and pressure manipulation to trick individuals into divulging sensitive information or performing actions that benefit the attacker.

One example is phishing, where attackers send emails or messages that appear to be from a legitimate source, such as a bank or social media platform, and ask for login credentials or personal information. During 2023 two of the top 5 social engineering attacks reported by ISC2 were Callback and Deepfake phishing. Another example is where attackers impersonate someone else, such as an IT technician or a company executive, to gain access to sensitive data. In 2020, the COVID-19 pandemic was exploited by attackers using social engineering tactics, such as posing as healthcare organizations or government agencies to trick individuals into downloading malware or providing personal information.

These attacks can be devastating, resulting in data breaches, financial losses, and reputational damage. Social engineering should be part of any organization’s policies and procedures and a key area for user education as stated under this Cisco Talos threat analysis blog.

With the rise of XDR (Extended Detection and Response) technology, organizations can now better protect themselves against social engineering attacks. XDR solutions are becoming a fundamental part of a comprehensive security strategy that integrates multiple security technologies into a single platform providing real-time detection and response capabilities across emails, endpoints, networks and cloud environments.

In 2023, Cisco introduced a state-of-the-art XDR solution that leverages advanced analytics and machine learning algorithms enriched by Cisco Talos Threat Intelligence to identify and respond to threats quickly and efficiently. By using Cisco XDR, organizations can gain visibility into their entire attack surface and detect threats that may have gone unnoticed otherwise.

So, how does an effective XDR solution help against social engineering attacks? Let’s look at some of the ways Cisco XDR can be used to defend against these attacks:

1. Email Security

Email is one of the most common vectors for social engineering attacks. Attackers use phishing emails to trick users into clicking on malicious links or downloading malware. Cisco XDR leverages telemetry from native email security controls, such as Cisco Email Threat Defense, to monitor email traffic and identify suspicious emails. It can also block emails from known malicious senders or those containing suspicious attachments, stopping nefarious deceptive attempts to prevent phishing attacks, business email compromise, malware and ransomware at early stages.

2. Endpoint Protection

Endpoints are often the first line of defense against social engineering attacks. Cisco XDR can leverage telemetry from a variety of leading EDR solutions such as Cisco Secure Endpoint. Endpoint context is an essential piece for investigations on attacks originated from social engineering techniques such as investigation on files, processes and observed anomalous behaviors. With this essential telemetry, Cisco XDR promotes detected alerts to high-fidelity incidents using correlation of telemetry. This is essential for taking response steps (one click or fully automated) to mitigate, contain, eradicate, or recover from an attack.

3. Network Security

Social engineering attacks often involve network-based tactics such as man-in-the-middle attacks or DNS spoofing. Cisco XDR leverages telemetry from NDR security controls such as Cisco Secure Network Analytics to monitor network traffic and detect any suspicious activity. Keeping this mission in focus, Cisco XDR provides enriched threat detection with agentless behavioral and anomaly detection capabilities and unique network device context to stop unauthorized access attempts and prevent stealthy data exfiltration behaviors.

4. Cloud Security

Cloud environments are becoming increasingly popular targets for social engineering attacks. Cisco XDR can be integrated with leading public cloud providers to gather network metadata from flow logs, proprietary logs, and APIs providing a powerful source for entity modeling. Using this approach, Cisco XDR builds a model of normal activity from observed behaviors and uses this model to spot changes in behavior that may be due to misuse, malware, or compromise as seen during successful social engineering attacks.

5. Incident Response

Despite the best efforts of security teams, social engineering attacks can still occur. As social engineering attacks continue to evolve, XDR solutions are becoming an increasingly important ally for organizations looking to defend against these threats.

Cisco XDR can help organizations respond to incidents quickly and efficiently. It can provide close to real-time alerts and automate incident response workflows. This can help reduce the impact of an attack and minimize the time it takes to remediate the issue.

In summary, social engineering attacks are rising and posing a serious threat to organizations of all sizes. However, by using Cisco XDR, organizations can better protect themselves against these attacks.

As we previously covered in my previous blog, Cisco XDR provides comprehensive security capabilities across emails, endpoints, networks, and cloud environments. Cisco XDR detects threats quickly and efficiently, helping SOC teams to respond to incidents in real-time, reducing the risk posed by socially engineered attacks!

Learn more:

Mastering the Hunt: Five Ways XDR Enhances Threat Hunting Strategies
Cisco XDR: Security Operations Simplified eBook
5 Ways to Experience XDR
An XDR Primer: The Promise of Simplifying Security Operations

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