The Behavioural Science Behind Cybersecurity: Why We Fall for Scams and How to Protect Ourselves

published on 22 June 2022

There are many different aspects to cybersecurity, but one of the most important is behaviour. By understanding how people behave online, we can better protect ourselves and our data. In this blog, we take a look at some key principles that underline the importance of behavioural science behind cybersecurity.

One of the key principles of behavioural science is that people are more likely to take action if they see others doing the same. This is known as social proof, and it’s one of the reasons why cybercriminals are so successful. They rely on the fact that people are more likely to do something if they think everyone else is doing it.

Although this principle can be used against us, it can also be used in our favour. If we can make people aware of the risks of clicking on links or opening attachments from unknown sources, we can make them less likely to fall for scams.

The fact that 90% of successful breaches are triggered by phishing emails explains why cybercriminals emphasize psychological tools in planning and implementing their attacks.

Another important principle is that people are more likely to take action if they’re given a specific, achievable goal. So, if we want people to be more security-conscious, we need to give them specific goals to achieve. For example, we could tell them to install security software on their computer or to never click on links in emails from unknown senders.

Behavioural science can also help us to understand why people might not take action to protect themselves online. One of the reasons is something called the bystander effect. This is when people think someone else will take action, so they don’t bother themselves.

We can use this knowledge to our advantage by making sure that people are more aware of the risks of not taking action. We can also make it easier for people to take action by simplifying the steps they need to take. Finally, by using behavioural science, we can make it more likely that people will take the necessary steps to protect themselves online.

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