The Psychology Behind Cyber Attacks

The Psychology Behind Cyber Attacks

Your employees might feel “stupid” or ashamed after becoming the victim of a cyber attack. How could they fall for such a stupid scam? The truth is that hackers use various psychological techniques to trick people into handing over data or downloading malware onto their computers. These techniques are so advanced that there’s nothing to feel guilty about. 

This guide will reveal how cybercriminals are so successful when carrying out attacks and why it’s important to hire the right professionals when training employees to identify red flags.

How Do Hackers Use Psychology?

Cybercriminals use a wide range of manipulation techniques to convince someone to share their most personal data. Often, victims have no idea a hacker has deceived them until it’s too late. 

Take phishing, for example. This type of cyber attack involves a hacker pretending to be from a legitimate institution, perhaps a client or a bank. Over time, the hacker will obtain information from an individual over email or text by gaining their trust. This scam happens all the time, and it’s easier to fall for than you think. 

Here are some of the reasons people become victims of phishing attacks:


A sophisticated cybercriminal can convince someone to do something by simply creating a sense of urgency. For example, a hacker might encourage a victim to click on a malicious link to gain a benefit, such as a free gift for your company, after telling them about a limited-time offer. The victim’s fear of missing out on the offer impacts their judgment. 

Lack of Awareness

Another common psychological technique is preying on victims who have limited cybersecurity knowledge. For example, a hacker might persuade someone unaware of the dangers of malicious links to download something onto their computer. That’s why it’s important to increase awareness about online scams so your employees can identify red flags. 


Many people fall for phishing attacks because they believe the person they are talking with over email or text is from a genuine organization. Cybercriminals use techniques like professional-looking subject lines and communicate from email addresses that look legitimate. When someone trusts a hacker, they are more likely to hand over personal information. That’s because humans have a cognitive bias to trust authority figures. 

How to Identify Scams

So, how can phishing affect your company? Well, when a hacker gets access to your data, they can open new credit accounts or use personal information for other crimes. Your company’s reputation could also be at risk after a data breach. That can destroy relationships with customers. Plus, employees who install malware onto your computers can lead to system outages and costly downtime.

Training your employees to identify scams requires an investment. However, it could protect your business from long-term damage. Here are some ways your workforce can recognize phishing and other cyber attacks:

  • Employees should never hand over their information to someone who initiated a communication by phone or over the Internet. That can be difficult, especially when an email or text message looks like it comes from a legitimate company. However, unless someone is 100% sure a message is genuine, they should ignore it and contact the purported company themselves. 
  • Phishing emails and texts often include spelling and grammar errors and poor formatting. Employees should look out for these mistakes and never click on any links inside a message. 
  • Employees should also check the sender’s email address when asked to share personal information. Hackers often use misspelled or unfamiliar addresses, while genuine companies use recognizable domain names. 
  • If someone is unsure whether a communication is legitimate, they should forward it to your cybersecurity team, who can analyze the message further and provide advice. 
  • Ultimately, it’s important to train your workforce about the psychological techniques hackers use to steal information. Cybercriminals often nurture their victims over time and eventually create a sense of urgency to complete an action. 

Add Top Talent to Your Company

Understanding the psychology behind cybercrime can safeguard your company from worst-case scenarios. Also, consider adding the right professionals to your workforce who can train team members to look for red flags. That will make the cyber attacks less likely to happen. These professionals might include threat hunters, security analysts, and security engineers.

MRINetwork is an organization that can connect you with top cybersecurity talent around the world who understand the psychology behind cyber attacks and the impact they have on your organization. 

Find an MRINetwork office near you now and meet with talent advisors who will fill cybersecurity gaps in your workforce.