The Science and Methodology Behind Social Engineering -Social engineering is getting stronger and being exploited on a larger scale compared to the time before artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML). With the help of ML, social engineering is now super easy, as machines are doing all the dirty work to serve the phishing and learn from the behavior. By using big jargon like AI and ML of today, it turns into an evil mindset.

Social Engineering – Outlook

Social Engineering: The actual meaning of this jargon in the dictionary is “the use of centralized planning in an attempt to manage social change and regulate the future development and behavior of a society”. But in today’s time, the cyber world has changed totally in the context of information security. In infosec, it’s more about deception to manipulate individuals.

Promoting ill-intentioned content to divulge confidential and personal information and use the information for personal gain Be aware that it can come as phishing direct or spear phishing, sms channel called smishing, msm-mining social media,  voice channel vishing, and many more. Even a voice call can drag you to the payment counter to pay the fraudster.

Social engineering now has the ability to meet the needs of the dark world at a rapid pace. Over the last few years, we have witnessed an unprecedented change in how the world interacts with the internet and how fraud occurs. This change has been led by the ability to take and make phishing at an unprecedented speed and scale.

Social Engineering

InfoSecurity awareness advocates are trying hard to share insights and examples of mental manipulation in everyday life, but at the same time, threat hunting professionals are still not able to arrest enough. As the tactics used by tricky and sophisticated social engineers in online scams ascend on a large scale.

Privacy and information security in the innovative digital era are becoming almost impossible. Some of the reasons info-security is becoming more important include the fact that card fraud losses incurred by banks worldwide run into billions of dollars, with estimates of over US$ 15 billion. E-commerce growth with Card Not Present (CNP) transactions now exceeds $2 trillion and is rapidly increasing, and the average cost of data breaches is increasing.

Each time there is a breach, the direct and indirect losses of affected financial institutions are increasing, and it starts with just clicking the wrong email or icon. How can we make sure that social engineering does not become an art of manipulating people to gain their confidential information but rather becomes a tool to prevent the same?

We should know who and what to trust in a crystal-clear manner. So let’s make sure we get emails from friends and not from foes.

What is Important – Security OR Innovation

People who take innovation to a higher level than security always get infected with malicious software attacks at all times. Social engineering experts know how to exploit such groups and their contacts very well. Someone gets an email from a friend who has lost their wallet and baggage and needs money from you. What would you do?

  • Information security should be a culture across the organization, not an add-on requirement.
  • A strong security culture is both a mindset and a mode of operation. One that’s integrated into day-to-day thinking and decision-making can make for a near-impenetrable operation.
    • Conversely, a security culture that’s absent will facilitate uncertainty and, ultimately, lead to security incidents that you likely can’t afford to take on.
  • It all starts at the top. Executive management that’s interested in fostering a positive security culture — and does so without fail — is mandatory if the risks of a breach are to be minimized.
  • Innovation starts in a secure environment, not the other way around.

There are millions of flavours of social engineering attacks, and the same numbers get added daily. The only way to limit this evil intent socially is by ethically exploiting the criminal’s imagination.

AI Capability for CyberSecurity – As a Guard and a Terminator

In this era of artificial intelligence, social engineering professionals have become smarter and throw open challenges to any cybersecurity state of today, which is too vulnerable. Now when  Artificial Intelligence powers social engineering, we are at a real turning point.


Deploying AI and machine learning-based tech to help comes with several substantial benefits. These benefits help prepare cybersecurity professionals for taking on attacks and safeguarding the enterprise. With this help, tasks like policy enforcement, blocking malicious files and IPs, and protecting against phishing attacks

Machine learning won’t replace human intelligence; rather, it should not be aimed at as well. According to the release, these technologies can be used to automate and speed up security operations and repetitive tasks.

Data mining for intrusion prevention and real-time action can be done to avoid detection of misuse. Predictive models should be built from labelled data sets, i.e., labelling data as “normal” or “intrusive”. Action is required on top of these rules.

Catch my NI (natural intelligence)  or catch me  is now an old phenomenon, the new one is Catch my AI (artificial intelligence) or catch my links is  the new challenge

These models can deliver more sophisticated and precise solutions than manually created signature-based rules. Then challenge ourselves where we are unable to detect attacks whose instances have not yet been observed and build them on the fly.


Food for Thought

To not be a victim of such social engineering deals, the solution is simple (up to a large extent): slow down and remember that every offer from a foreigner or foreign company is a scam (until you know them as a friend or have done good research and have had good discussions). Read-Research-Evaluate

  • Tokenization: The Key to Payment Security
  • Don’t let a link control you and your activities on the internet.
  • Tokenization is an integral technology for every merchant, along with EMV and PCI-validated point-to-point encryption (P2PE).
  • Tokenization enables merchants and enterprises to safely “store” cardholder data at rest for use in future transactions. Tokenization, like P2PE, effectively renders the data useless to hackers.
  • P2PE protects data in transit by encrypting cardholder data at the point of entry on the retail device. Encrypting card data upon entry prevents the data from being available in the enterprise’s or merchant’s system as “clear text,” where it could be exposed in the event of a data breach.
  • Artificial Intelligence: Patterns
  • Machine Learning: To detect password typing behavior

Most SECaaS providers integrate their services with service seekers existing infrastructure or deploy hybrid environments for the use of a mix of cloud and on-premise resources.

It has also opened many access points compared to gold and silver, which would only require physical security. Unauthorized access to e-money can be gained by anyone, anywhere, at any time. Therefore, information security is everyone’s responsibility.

For instance, bitcoin is the best example of a binary form of money, or money as data. This means more reason for info-security and encrypting data at every entry or exit to prevent the data from being available in the enterprise’s or merchant’s system as “clear text,” where it could be exposed in the event of a data breach..

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Points to Note:

All credits, if any, remain with the original contributor. AI—a bundle of emerging technology—is here and is powering every single business. AI is going to disrupt every aspect of business life. When AI meets quantum computing for a friendly handshake, that explosion would be a blessing. A number of stats were taken from Webroot.

Books + Other readings Referred

  • Open Internet, research papers & Conferences.
  • Hands on personal research work @AILabPage

Do you have any questions about cybersecurity intelligence, where AI is an integral part of it? Leave a comment or ask your question in the comments section below. I will try my best to answer it.

Conclusion – Phishing has evolved. Hackers are angling for our information, traces on the web, races on the web, and data. “So the question is, how do we protect ourselves?” In today’s social engineering world, where money has been reduced to just binary data, access to information or data is as good as access to cash. The advent of e-money is touted as having provided convenience by allowing people to access money anywhere at any time.

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Posted by V Sharma

A Technology Specialist boasting 22+ years of exposure to Fintech, Insuretech, and Investtech with proficiency in Data Science, Advanced Analytics, AI (Machine Learning, Neural Networks, Deep Learning), and Blockchain (Trust Assessment, Tokenization, Digital Assets). Demonstrated effectiveness in Mobile Financial Services (Cross Border Remittances, Mobile Money, Mobile Banking, Payments), IT Service Management, Software Engineering, and Mobile Telecom (Mobile Data, Billing, Prepaid Charging Services). Proven success in launching start-ups and new business units - domestically and internationally - with hands-on exposure to engineering and business strategy. "A fervent Physics enthusiast with a self-proclaimed avocation for photography" in my spare time.

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