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What Is Blagging in Cybersecurity?

Blagging may sound like some complicated hacking technique, but it’s much simpler than that. But while not as “high-tech” as other cyber crimes, blagging can still do serious damage if companies aren’t prepared.

So what is blagging and how does it work?

What Is Blagging, and How Does It Work?

a hooded guy on an iphone
Image Credit: freepik

Blagging is when sneaky scammers try to trick or manipulate people into handing over confidential info they shouldn’t have access to.

These blaggers will make up whatever story they need to convince their target to spill data that could be used for shady purposes like identity theft, spying on companies, or blackmailing folks.

So how does it work exactly? Here are some common blagging techniques:

  1. Impersonation: The scammer pretends to be someone else, like a fellow employee, a bank representative, or police officer. This builds trust and makes the target more likely to share confidential info. For example, they may call, posing as an IT technician needing a password to fix a computer issue.
  2. Creating a false sense of urgency: The scammer pressures the target by making the request seem time-sensitive. Threats to close an account or legal action are used to get information fast before the target has time to verify the validity of the request.
  3. Phishing: Blaggers will use phishing emails or links containing malware to infect target systems and steal data. The emails are crafted to appear like they’re from a trusted source to entice the victim to click or download.
  4. USB drop attack: This tactic leaves infected malware-laden devices like USB drives in public places where targets are likely to find them and plug them in, allowing the blagger access. Parking lots and elevators are popular spots to bait unsuspecting persons.
  5. Name-dropping: The scammer will mention names of legitimate managers, executives, or contacts to make it seem like they’re authorized to have otherwise confidential information. This lends credibility to their shady request.
  6. Sympathy pleas: The scammer will appeal to the target’s compassion, making up sob stories to manipulate them. Saying things like they’re a single parent who needs money in an account to feed their family can work.
  7. Quid pro quo: The scammer promises something in return for information, like a bonus, time off, or cash. Of course, those are empty promises used to get what they want.
  8. Tailgating: The blagger physically follows an employee into a building or restricted area to gain access. They count on people holding doors open for others or not questioning their presence.
  9. Elicitation: Blaggers will try engaging in friendly chit-chat to get targets to reveal information about systems, processes, or vulnerabilities inadvertently. It’s dangerous because it seems so harmless.

The key thing to remember is these attackers are masters of deception and will say or do whatever it takes to get what they’re after.

How to Defend Yourself Against Blagging Attacks

With blaggers using so many sneaky tactics, how can you protect yourself and your company from their scams? Here are some key ways to defend against blagging attacks.

Verify Claims

An employee making calls to verify claims

Don’t take anyone at face value—always corroborate their story.

If someone calls, claiming to be tech support needing access or a fellow employee needing info, hang up and call back using an official number to confirm it’s legitimate.

Check email addresses, names, and contact info closely to ensure they match up too.

Validate Requests

As an employee working for a company, look into any unusual requests, even if they seem urgent or the story is believable. Say you need to escalate it to a supervisor or submit a ticket through proper channels.

Slow down the interaction, so you can investigate further before handing over confidential data.

Limit Account Access

Business owners should provide the minimum access employees need to do their jobs and nothing more. For example, customer service reps likely don’t need access to financial systems. This contains any damage in the event an account is compromised.

Implementing the principle of least privilege can prevent a blagger from gaining too much if they dupe one person.

Report Suspicions

looking at documents behind a desk

Don’t hesitate to speak up if a request seems odd or the story doesn’t add up. Notify security or management right away if you suspect an interaction is an attempt at blagging.

Also, monitor systems and user behavior closely to catch any unusual activity that could indicate a blagging attempt. Look for things like:

  • Attempts to access unauthorized systems or confidential data.
  • Remote logins from unfamiliar IP addresses or locations.
  • Large volumes of data being transferred externally.
  • Anomalies in typical user patterns like new processes run or abnormal work hours.
  • Disabled security tools like antivirus suites or login prompts.

The sooner anomalous behavior is flagged, the faster experts can investigate and mitigate a potential blagging attack.

Security Awareness Training

Well-trained employees are much harder for blaggers to fool. Ongoing education strengthens the human firewall and empowers people to stop social engineering in its tracks confidently.

When employees know to outsmart blagging tactics, companies gain a major advantage. Training should involve real-world examples and scenarios so employees can practice responding appropriately. Test them with simulated phishing emails and unexpected visitors to see their reactions. It shoudl also explain common blagging techniques like pretexting, phishing, and quid pro quo offers. The more employees understand tactics, the better they can recognize them.

Teach employees how to properly validate requests, verify identities, report incidents, and handle sensitive data per policy. Give clear guidance on expected actions. Keep it interesting using engaging videos, interactive modules, and contests to maintain focus on security. Refresh training frequently.

And ensure senior leaders participate to demonstrate organizational commitment to awareness.

Use Layered Security

being admitted into an office using face id

Rely on multiple overlapping security controls rather than a single point of failure.

Some layers you can implement include:

  • Physical security controls like ID badges, secured facilities, and CCTV monitoring to prevent tailgating and unauthorized access.
  • Perimeter defenses like firewalls, IPS, and web filters to block known threats and risky sites from entering your network.
  • Endpoint security with antivirus, endpoint detection and response, and encryption to prevent breaches and make data theft harder.
  • Email security with gateways to filter malicious emails and sandboxing to isolate threats.
  • Access controls like multi-factor authentication and role-based permissions to limit account misuse even if credentials are compromised.
  • Data loss prevention tools to stop large transfers of confidential data.

The more hurdles for blaggers, the more likely they’ll be spotted.

Keep Your Guard Up Against Blagging

While blagging often targets businesses, everyone is vulnerable. Any of us could be tricked by a seemingly innocent call or email from a scammer posing as tech support, a bank rep, or even a family member needing help. That’s why we all need to learn blagging techniques and know how to spot red flags.

And if you are a business owner or run a company, you shouldn’t underestimate this threat. With comprehensive security awareness training and layered technical defenses, you can thwart these tricksters in their tracks.

With the right safeguards in place, blaggers don’t stand a chance.


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