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So what do you do when you receive a request from someone you don’t know? You might be tempted to accept or dismiss the request immediately without a second thought. Most people “like to be liked” so they do a little digging before making a decision to reject a potential “friend.” Before hitting “accept” you should do some research to determine why this person wants to connect with you. If you click on the profile of the person and don’t find anything in common or a shared interest, most people deny the request. But if the person happens to share connections with you or works for the same company, most people are more likely to accept the request, and that’s how social engineers get you.
While it’s nice to be liked and natural to want to expand your social network as well as to help others, you should only accept requests to connect on social networks from people you know. Social engineers build a network by first getting one or two people to accept, often absent-mindedly, their requests to connect. Others may be wary but will accept because they recognize that other people they know have accepted. Once the attacker has built a network of connections, he has become a “trusted insider” and those in the social network tend to let their guard down. Remaining secure while being social means choosing your social “friends” wisely and never sharing information online that wouldn’t normally be shared with the general public.