Combat Social Engineering: Don’t Be the Weakest Link

Smart criminals go after the 'lowest hanging fruit.'

September 16, 2010
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Reinforce the chain

Employees are the first line of defense against social engineering schemes. It’s imperative that management provide them adequate tools to combat would-be scammers, including:

  • Comprehensive policies and procedures that go beyond the obvious threats and address scenarios unique to the organization;
  • Security awareness training that includes custom role-based training for positions most vulnerable to social engineering tactics;
  • Systematic controls like a shared vendor/visitor tracking system that accounts for local vendors at remote branches; and
  • Frequent reminders (e-mails, posters, tips of the week) to staff about the organization’s commitment to security.

The most advanced firewalls, intrusion detection systems, and video surveillance can’t offer much protection against social engineers who use unsuspecting employees to breach security and access sensitive information.

The best defense is well-trained and well-equipped employees who understand their role in protecting the interests of the organization.

Management must provide staff with the training, guidance, and tools to effectively combat this growing threat.

DAVID BLAZIER is marketing manager for TraceSecurity, a CUNA strategic alliance provider. Contact him at 225-612-2121, ext. 31062.

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Great article! Unfortunately, most employees don’t feel valued or appreciated by their supervisors or employers. In fact, research has shown that the predominant reason team members quit their jobs is because they don’t feel valued. This is in spite of the fact that employee recognition programs have proliferated in the workplace – over 90% of all organizations in the U.S. has some form of employee recognition activities in place. But most employee recognition programs are viewed with skepticism and cynicism – because they aren’t viewed as being genuine in their communication of appreciation. Getting the “employee of the month” award, receiving a certificate of recognition, or a “Way to go, team!” email just don’t get the job done. How do you communicate authentic appreciation? We have found people have different ways that they want to be shown appreciation, and if you don’t communicate in the language of appreciation important to them, you essentially “miss the mark”. Additionally, employees need to receive recognition more than once a year at their performance review. Otherwise, they view the praise as “going through the motions”. A third component of authentic appreciation is that the communication has to be about them personally – not the department, not their group, but something they did. Finally, they have to believe that you mean what you say. How you treat them has to match the words you use. If you are not sure how your team members want to be shown appreciation, the Motivating By Appreciation Inventory ( will identify the language of appreciation and specific actions preferred by each employee. You then can create a group profile for your team, so everyone knows how to encourage one another. Remember, employees want to know that they are valued for what they contribute to the success of the organization. And communicating authentic appreciation in the ways they desire it can make the difference between keeping your quality team members or having a negative work environment that everyone wants to leave. Paul White, Ph.D., is the co-author of The 5 Languages of Appreciation in the Workplace with Dr. Gary Chapman.

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