What is a social engineering attack?

In a social engineering attack, an attacker uses human interaction (social skills) to obtain or compromise information about an individual or organization computer system. An attacker may seem unassuming and respectable, possibly claiming to be a new employee, repair person, or researcher and even offering credentials to support that identity. However, by asking questions, he or she may be able to piece together enough information to infiltrate a system. If an attacker is not able to gather enough information from one source, he or she may contact another source and rely on the information from the first source to add to his or her credibility.