Whatever their motives, most hackers focus on a few things: exploiting people, stealing data, and compromising systems. Over the past few years, hackers have been focusing less on brute force attacks on servers and security measures; instead, they focus on tricking the humans that use those systems.

“Social engineering,” as the process is called, focuses on deceptive tactics such as impersonation of trustworthy figures, threats of impending consequences or forgery of documents or websites. Through trickery and intimidation, hackers can get their victims to surrender login credentials, personal information or even access to their computers or other devices. From there, hackers can commit identity theft, exploit victims’ computers for ransom, sell data or device access to other criminals, or lock victims out of their accounts and systems.

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