cyber attacks and personality

How your personality can make you vulnerable to cyber attacks

Certain human personality traits can make a user more or less vulnerable to cyber attacks. This is what a new research leaded by Thomas J. Holt from Michigan State University says after examining the behaviour that lead someone to fall victim to cybercrime. The research, published in Social Science Computer Review, assessed the self-control of nearly 6000 survey participants, as well as their computers’ behaviour that could indicate malware and infection. The results clearly indicate that some behaviour such as impulsive online shopping, downloading music and compulsive email use are all signs of a certain personality trait that makes this kind of people a target for malware attacks.

“Recent research demonstrates that those with low self-control have an increased risk of victimization due to involvement in routine activities that place them in close proximity to motivated offenders and decrease their willingness to utilize appropriate guardianship factors”, the abstract of the paper says.

At Deep Blue, in the Hermeneut European Project focusing on economics of cyber security, we pay particular attention to the human factors connected with cyber risks. We are strongly convinced that not only technological but also socio-organisational aspects and individual behaviour are crucial in the cybersecurity management. This is why in the Hermeneut project we have developed assessment methodologies to support user profiling, such as questionnaires, grids for field observations and narrative collections, studying user’s behaviour, attitudes, value system and knowledge.

In our methodologies, we also use a systemic approach, in which we consider the single user working in interaction with specific technologies, processes and other roles, to perform specific tasks. This kind of complexity within an organization could influence the vulnerability of a single user and therefore must be taken in account as well.

Giorgio Sestili