How Cybercriminals Use Social Engineering

Hackers often rely on manipulating psychology rather than technical skills alone. Social engineering is the art of deceiving people into handing over access or information. Here are 8 ways cybercriminals employ social engineering 

Crafting convincing emails pretending to be trusted entities to trick users into clicking malicious links or attachments that install malware or capture passwords.


Making up a credible story to manipulate someone on the phone. For example, pretending to be tech support needing remote access to your computer.


Leaving infected USB drives or devices in public places. Curiosity leads people to plug them in, unintentionally installing malware.


Requesting a favor in exchange for something. For example, an attacker poses as IT needing access to change a password, offering a software upgrade in return.

Quid Pro Quo  

Following an authorized employee into a restricted building or room without permission. Allows physical access to steal data or install keyloggers.


Malicious fake system alerts that urge the user to download software or enter details to supposedly fix an issue.

Pop-up Windows  

Compromising a website commonly visited by targets and planting malware to infect visitors and gain a foothold on their network.


Creating deceitful URLsclose to legitimate sites but with typos to trick users. Gets credentials or installs malware.


These techniques leverage human psychology like curiosity, fear, greed, distraction, and the desire to be helpful. Combining these tactics allows schemers to fully breach targets. Being aware of these methods is the best defense against sneaky social engineering.