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The Psychology of Cybercrime

November 10, 2021

The Psychology of Cybercrime
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According to the FBI, 800,000 people fell victim to cyber crime in 2020. That’s a 69% increase over the previous year.

Why are cyber criminals so successful, and what can we do to protect ourselves?

Shelby Skrhak talks with Matt Brennan, VP of Sales, U.S. West for SonicWall, about:

  • The typical profile of a cybercriminal
  • How threat actors use our brains against us
  • Best practices to combat cybercrime

Profile of a cybercriminal

Most people assume that cybercriminals share a lot in common with a white-collar thief or perhaps even the mob.

The truth is that most cyber criminal groups share a lot more in common with your average company.

“They treat their business like any of us run our normal businesses,” Matt says. “They work 9 to 5. They take off weekends. They have a structured leadership platform with executive levels, product managers and sales leadership.”

Some business axioms apply to cybercrime as well—namely, time is money. If they’re not able to hack your password on the first few tries, they will move on to the next opportunity.

Why we fall for it

Cybercriminals often use our own brains against us.

“They take advantage of some of the unconscious, automatic processes that really shortcut our decision-making,” Matt says.

Good threat actors use things we’re familiar with—like corporate logos or family names—to lull us into a false sense of security. Once our emotions get behind a task, we often make poor decisions.

“When we talk about enterprises or small businesses, it isn't because they don't have email security, or they don't have a firewall,” Matt says. “It's almost always an operational thing.”

In other words, the root cause is almost always a mistake made by an employee who trusted something they shouldn’t have.

“People are being preyed on by smart folks,” Matt says.

Best practices for cybercrime prevention

Despite the ubiquity of cybercrime, there are many things you can do to protect yourself:

  • Two-factor authentication
  • Password protector apps
  • Don’t use the same password for everything
  • Network segmentation
  • Check with the alleged sender to verify if a request is real
  • Train your employees to recognize common threats
  • Don’t wait to update and patch software

Cybercriminals often target small businesses, and the average cost of a company breach is $8.6 million. Not all companies can rebound from that. Make sure you do what you can to secure your assets.

For more information, contact Stefan Buczak at stefan.buczak@ingrammicro.com or visit sonicwall.com.

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