How Social Engineering Bypasses MFA and What You Can Do About It

In cybersecurity, the sophistication of technology and human ingenuity often collide, especially when it comes to protecting your business. Multi-factor authentication (MFA) is a significant barrier against unauthorized access, yet it’s not impenetrable. Cybercriminals are increasingly leveraging social engineering techniques to sidestep MFA, exploiting the most vulnerable link in the security chain: human psychology.

Let’s look at the mechanics of social engineering attacks against MFA and lay out a blueprint for protecting yourself and your business.

Examples of Social Engineering for your 2FA Codes

Phishing with a 2FA Twist: Attackers send a fake login alert and prompt you to authenticate a login attempt, supposedly for security reasons. While you think you’re securing your account, you’re giving the attacker the 2FA code they need to access it.

The Middleman Attack: In a more sophisticated phishing attack, the hacker creates a fake login page for your site. When you enter your credentials and 2FA code, the attacker passes the information to the real site in real time, allowing them instant access.

Pretexting for Backup Codes: An attacker, pretending to be from customer support, may claim they need to verify your identity and ask for your 2FA backup codes, ostensibly for verification purposes. Sharing these can give them unfettered access to your account.

Voicemail Hacking: Some 2FA systems send codes via voice call. Attackers could use social engineering to persuade you or your phone company to forward calls to a number they control, intercepting your 2FA codes.

SIM Swapping: By convincing your mobile carrier, through pretexting, that they are you and need to “swap” your phone number to a new SIM card (that the attacker controls), they can receive 2FA SMS codes intended for you.

Bypassing 2FA with Account Recovery: Attackers might use personal information gathered through social engineering to attempt account recovery processes that bypass 2FA, claiming they’ve lost access to their 2FA device.

Enhancing Your Defense Strategies

Comprehensive Training

Conduct regular, scenario-based training for all employees. Familiarize them with the latest tactics used by cybercriminals and the importance of scrutinizing every request for sensitive information or access.

Adopt Advanced MFA Solutions

Shift towards more secure forms of MFA, such as app-based tokens or physical security keys, which offer higher security than SMS-based codes.

Strengthen Verification Processes

Establish a clear protocol for verifying the authenticity of unusual requests, particularly those seeking access to sensitive information or systems. When in doubt, encourage employees to seek secondary confirmation through trusted channels.

Apply the Principle of Least Privilege

Minimize exposure to potential breaches by ensuring that access rights are strictly aligned with the needs of each role within your organization.

Secure Your Communication Channels

 Implement end-to-end encryption for all internal and external communications, significantly reducing the risk of interception by unauthorized parties.

Routine Security Reviews

Regularly audit your security infrastructure and policies to identify and address vulnerabilities. Stay updated on the latest security patches and apply them without delay.

Enhancing Small Business Security with Microsoft Edge’s Latest Features

The intersection of technology and human behavior presents a complex challenge. Still, by fostering a culture of security awareness and adopting a proactive approach to cybersecurity, you can significantly mitigate the risk of social engineering attacks. Integrating robust technical defenses with a well-informed team creates a dynamic and resilient security posture that protects the lifeblood of your business: its data.

We at Protek-IT aim to empower you with the knowledge and tools to navigate the shifting tides of cyber threats. Remember, the goal isn’t just to protect against what we already know and prepare for the evolving challenges. If you need any help strengthening your company’s security, get in touch today, and we’ll help you develop a strategy to combat threats.