When it comes to social engineering attacks, you might think phishing attacks are your only threat. But that’s only one of the ways bad actors take advantage of human behavior and put your business at risk. Here’s what you need to know about another common social engineering technique: baiting.

Often described as being a real-life “Trojan horse,” baiting attacks work by exploiting human curiosity in order to achieve its goal. Different from phishing, which exploits a human’s trust or creates a sense of fear, baiting involves enticing victims with some sort of false promise. If the bait is taken, bad actors can gain access to a system or steal sensitive information.

Baiting Techniques to Know

There are two key types of baiting techniques of which every individual needs to be aware: tempting offers and malware-infected devices.

Tempting offers are a digital form of baiting. Under the assumption they’re receiving some sort of prize, like a new laptop or free music and movies, an internet user is tempted to click a malicious download link or give up sensitive information.

Baiting attacks exist in the physical world, too. Using a malware-infected device technique, bad actors are able to target employees and individuals. For example, a cyber criminal might leave an infected USB drive in a company’s lobby, where an employee will find it and insert it into their computer, which immediately becomes infected with malware.

You’re More Susceptible Than You Think

In 2016, researchers from Google, the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign, and the University of Michigan, conducted a study which involved spreading 297 USB drives around the Urbana-Champaign campus. They found that 48% of the drives were picked up and plugged into a computer, with only 16% of respondents bothering to scan the drive with anti-virus software.

In other words, any individual can easily become a victim of baiting attacks, so businesses need to take measures to prevent and defend against this common social engineering tactic.

How to Minimize Baiting Attacks on Your Business


Baiting, and all types of social engineering attacks, take advantage of human behavior, so education is key when it comes to protecting your business. A robust cybersecurity awareness training program teaches your employees critical skills, such as how to recognize deceptive messages, how to maintain good password hygiene, and what to do if they click on malicious links.


Bad actors attack your organization’s vulnerabilities, which is exactly what penetration testing simulates. Ongoing testing helps you strengthen your policies, procedures, and technologies by giving you a clear picture of where your critical systems could be prone to baiting and other social engineering attacks.


Baiting takes advantage of the weakest cybersecurity link — humans. On top of a robust training program, the right security tools can help protect your employees against baiting attacks. Even just getting a reliable anti-malware and antivirus software up and running can be the difference between a secure network and a costly data breach.

Don’t Take the Bait. Secure Your Business With AccountabilIT.

At AccountabilIT, we ensure all of our customers have the resources they need to protect against evolving attack methods. On top of handling your security awareness training so you can get back to running your business, we deliver the cybersecurity solutions that keep your networks locked down and secure.

Learn more about our customer-driven approach to IT and cybersecurity.

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