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Cyber Strategies Blog

The Psychology of Malware

Malware Attack

Malware is software designed to interfere with a computer’s normal function. Common malware types can thieve your bank account details, turn the computer into a satellite machine of the attacker’s or even hold your system to ransom.

When it comes to protecting yourself from malware, installing an antivirus software is a great start. But antivirus alone won’t do the whole job. To keep yourself safe, you need to understand the psychology of malware and the mistakes people make.

Betting on carelessness

Attackers using malware rely on their victims not paying attention. They attach malware to phony emails and bet on people not checking the email closely before opening the attachment. A fake link can lead to malware, and not everyone checks the URL before clicking.

The attackers can bet on this usually working because our internet use is common and fast-paced. We may sift through dozens of emails and visit hundreds of sites a day. Speed and familiarity lead to carelessness.

One of the most important things you can do to protect yourself is simply to slow down and concentrate more. If you take a few seconds to check a URL or a download before clicking on them, the attack fails.

The Power of Fear

Other malware attacks rely on something simpler: fear. Ransomware infects a system, locks down data and threatens to release or destroy it. There might be a ticking clock, too. Act now, pay up—or else!

People who are threatened and afraid are less likely to think clearly. Even though paying the ransom often doesn’t get the data back, the threat means they often pay up anyway.

Planning is a keyway to fight back against the power and pressure of fear.

When you have a plan in place and know what you’re ready to do if the worst-case scenario happens, you can proceed with more confidence, and the attacker finds it more difficult to manipulate you.… but don’t be TOO confident.

People often rely on their antivirus and firewall to do most of the work for them. The sense of having a safety net can lead to overconfidence and carelessness.

Think of yourself as an adventurer on a dangerous alien world. You have technology to protect yourself and a map to guide you, but that doesn’t mean it’s safe to let your guard down.

Simple awareness is important for people at all levels of an organization. Once you know how malware manipulates you, you’re ready to protect technology to protect yourself and a map to guide you, but that doesn’t mean it’s safe to let your guard down.

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