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Too good to be true?

Emile Ramlal
  • Date: 29 June, 2020

Global Knowledge business development manager Innovation & Cyber Security Emile Ramlal teaches us about social engineering through a love story that turns out to be too good to be true.

A love story in times of Corona - we can all use an epic romance to lift our spirits. A good friend of mine met someone on a dating site when everything in the world became to a halt because of the spread of Covid-19.

She was lucky - the man traveled around the world for his work, had a great job in the art world an a child - coincidentally of exactly the same age as my friends' child. But like every epic love story, this one had a catch: the man wasn't allowed to leave France. Because of Covid-19, it'd be impossible to visit for a while.

Something is just not right here...

All of a sudden travel was possible again! This would be it: on the edge of my seat I waited to hear how this romance was going to unfold. Things were still difficult: the man was having trouble getting through security at the last moment. Because of Covid-19, everything had become more and more expensive, and the man needed €30.000. He asked my friend to log into a bank account, because he couldn't reach his funds from France. The friend would be able to help him, right?

'When something sounds too good to be true, it usually isn't' - my friend felt something just wasn't right with this man. And she was right - he turned out to be a smooth criminal instead of a Don Juan.

Cyber crime and Covid-19

At the end of March, Europol already issued a warning: cyber crime would increase because of Covid-19 (with a slight nuance, because we don't have the exact numbers of the influence of Covid-19 on cyber crime). But - one and one makes two, obviously criminals are using this pandemic to their advantage - the romance of my friend is a good example. But there has also been an increase of domains registered with the words COVID or Corona, More than 40.000 of these domains appear to be malicious.

Social engineering

We can categorize the type of cyber crime my friend became the victim of as social engineering. Social engineers abuse your trust to gain sensitive information.

This social engineer used a dating website to got to work, but a social engineer can also be that one nice woman or man that chats with you at the entrance of your office, in order to get some sensitive information. A social engineer doesn't hack systems - they hack people.

How does the social engineer target me?

In my next blog, I'll give you a couple of examples of tactics of a social engineer. I'll write about 'human errors' - all the bugs in your behavior a social engineer can use to their advantage. Because just like a computer - you've got weak spots that need patching, so a social engineer can't use them to his or her advantage.

Once you become aware of what these weaknesses are, you'll prevent others taking advantage of these. Keep an eye on my LinkedIn-page and our website for the next blog.

How did things end for my friend? She won't be as charmed by pretty words next time...

There is more

Learn more about Social Engineering and other forms of cybercrime in the Global Knowledge cyber security e-Book. Download our (Dutch) e-Book via the button below.

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Emile Ramlal

Emile Ramlal

Emile Ramlal is Business Development Manager Innovation en Cybersecurity at Global Knowledge Benelux. Emile is passionate about 'all things digital' and an expert on innovation, digital business, IT management and Agile Software Development.