What Is Pretexting? How Does Pretexting Work [Updated 2024]

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What Is Pretexting? How Does Pretexting Work [Updated 2024]

What is Pretexting definition?

Pretexting is a type of social engineering attack where the adversary attempts to persuade the victim to reveal sensitive data or carry out a particular activity that will benefit the attacker.  In addition, the threat actor creates a pretext or fake circumstance to gain the victim’s confidence and convince them to reveal the required information or take the necessary action.

So, a person posing as a member of a law enforcement agency, a CEO of a corporation, or a customer care or technical support representative is also another example.  The offender may employ a variety of tactics to keep the victim under control, like building rapport, preying on feelings of haste or worry, or taking full advantage of the victim’s eagerness to help or satisfy others.

Furthermore, pretexting may also be employed to legitimately access computer systems or secure areas, as well as sensitive data, including passwords, financial details, and personal details.  Cybercriminals regularly utilize it to acquire sensitive information or to commit various types of fraud.

How does Pretexting work?

Typically, the pretense is pretending to be someone else or something else, like a legitimate business, a governmental agency, a research group, or a financial institution.  In addition, the primary goal is to collect confidential material, such as passwords, bank account information, Social Security numbers, and other private information.  Pretexting is illegal in the US and most other countries.

Pretexting Techniques

Pretexting involves numerous legitimate approaches or tactics, many of which are carefully crafted by someone claiming to be a real person for a respectable work, which is acceptable in society at large and the law; however, the truth differs significantly from what it appears!

Here, we’ve included a few of the well-known pretexting strategies that criminals frequently use:

Impersonation The attacker could pose as a well-known person or entity, like a CEO of a corporation, a member of law enforcement, or a customer service agent, in order to gain the target’s trust and convince them to reveal crucial information.
Tailgating Tailgating is when an unauthorized person enters a prohibited facility behind authorized staff without the proper identity or clearance.
Piggybacking The term “piggybacking” is used in IT technology to refer to the improper use of a computer system or network by someone who is not directly linked to it.  In addition, Piggybacking often involves entering an established connection that has been made by an authenticated user.
Baiting In general, baiting is a kind of social engineering assault in which a target is seduced by an alluring offer, such as a free commodity or service, in order to trick them into disclosing personal information or taking a step that is beneficial to the malicious attacker.
Phishing By utilizing phony emails, texts, or websites, threat actors might deceive their targets into disclosing personal information or acting in a way that benefits them.
Vishing and Smishing This kind of behavior includes “vishing” and “smishing” social engineering attempts, which use texts and phone calls to trick victims into disclosing personal information.  A type of attack known as “vishing,” also known as “voice phishing,” involves the threat actor calling the victim and attempting to persuade them to reveal private information, like bank account details (user IDs and passwords.)

Moreover, smishing is a type of attack in which SMS texts are sent to targets in an effort to get them to click on dangerous links or provide personal information.  These two methods are used to steal both cash and sensitive information.

Scareware Malicious software, known as scareware, is frequently advertised to users through false pop-up notifications and websites.  In addition,  users are encouraged to buy the malicious software in hopes of curing the situation by tricking them into thinking their system is infected by a computer virus or even other malware.  Moreover, harmful code in scareware has the potential to infect the user’s machine further.

Common Pretext Attack Examples

Illustrations of popular pretexting attacks can be used to illustrate the many anti-social actions taking place worldwide to deceive the general public and steal their hard-earned income via unethical means.

Also, the table includes the following instances of typical pretexting attacks:

Attack Definition
CEO fraud The attacker requests confidential data, including financial or personnel details, while assuming the individual is the CEO or another top leader in the company.
Tech support scam By pretending to be a tech support representative from a reputable company, the attacker convinces the victim to enable remote access to their system.  In addition, the attacker could then steal information or add malware.
Bank phishing Moreover, the attacker sends the victim a text or an email that appears to be from a trustworthy bank and asks them to refresh their account information or click on a link.  The victim’s login details may be stolen on a fake website after clicking the link.
Government impersonation When posing as an official of a government department such as the IRS or Social Security Administration, the attacker requests personal information or the payment of a penalty.   The victim may be cautioned about legal consequences or even detained if they refuse to comply.
Human resources scam The adversary poses as a human resources expert and requests personal information from the victim, such as their Social Security number or bank account information.

How do I prevent pretexting?

As of now, there are a few notable strategies to protect yourself or your business from pretextual assaults, including the following:

  • Educate your staff,
  • Put in place strong access control guidelines,
  • Implement two-factor authentication
  • keep track of network activity,
  • Use encryption and secure passwords,

Differences between Phishing and Pretexting

Fake emails or webpages that appear to be from a reputable source, such as a banking or social media site, are regularly used in phishing attempts.  Furthermore, the attacker will sincerely request private information from the target, like login credentials, credit card information, or other sensitive information.  Moreover, phishing attacks aim to obtain this data in order to commit fraud or identity theft.

On the other hand, pretexting attacks involve the creation of a false pretext or fabricated circumstance in order to trick the target into revealing sensitive information.  Moreover, this can entail posing as a trustworthy individual, such as a bank worker or corporate employee, and requesting confidential information as part of a bogus transaction or investigation.  Moreover, pretexting also aims to get sensitive information, but the threat actor takes a different approach by inventing a scenario or character to win the victim over.


about What Is Pretexting? How Does Pretexting Work?

  1. What is pretexting in information security?
    Pretexting is a type of social engineering technique where the attacker attempts to persuade the victim to reveal sensitive data or carry out a particular action that will benefit the attacker.  In addition, the threat actor creates a pretext or fake situation to gain the user’s trust and convince them to reveal the required information or take the required action.
  2. What is pretexting in cyber attacks?
    Pretexting is a kind of social engineering technique used in cyberattacks to deceive targets into divulging personal details or carrying out specific tasks that benefit the attacker.
  3. What is an example of pretexting?
    CEO fraud is a pretty famous example of pretexting.
  4. Why is pretexting used?
    Pretexting is a tactic used to collect extremely private and sensitive data from an entity or person in hopes of gaining illicit advantages for one’s own purposes.
  5. Is pretexting illegal?
    Absolutely, it is really illegal to use various pretexting strategies in the majority of nations throughout the world.

Wrapping Up

In conclusion, we honestly believe that we have done our best to explain the key elements of pretexting and its associated words.  Additionally, suppose a person wants to learn more about the same context in depth. In that case, they can enroll in Craw Security‘s world-class Cyber Security Courses, either in-house or our partner courses, which are offered around the world and are taught by top mentors with years of real-world experience in their respective cybersecurity trades.  Moreover, Craw Security is the best cybersecurity training institute in Singapore that offers its exclusive, curated cybersecurity curriculum disseminated in 4 levels that one can choose from.

To learn more about the upcoming batches at Craw Security’s world-class Singapore branch, call us at +65-93515400.

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