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Don’t panic. This is how you can protect yourself from manipulative hackers

Cyber security is important – both at work and outside of the office. In addition to technical measures, your personal behavior is a key factor, as hackers use social engineering to specifically exploit human weaknesses. But this doesn’t mean that you’re completely defenseless against these fraudsters.

Effective cyber security is made up of a combination of different measures. Secure protective systems, such as firewalls, anti-virus software and encryption, protect your data. They make it more difficult for hackers to gain access. But this is exactly why cyber criminals like to use social engineering. By deploying manipulative methods, they try to find a way to circumvent the security concerns of their victims in order to gain (direct or indirect) access to systems, passwords and valuable information.

“Could you just give me a hand for a minute?” – human weaknesses
This works so well because humans are social creatures. However, it doesn’t mean that you’re totally defenseless against these methods. On the contrary, as a human being, you’re endowed with common sense. Use it! You can respond as follows to emotional attempts to manipulate you.

  • “It’s really urgent. In two minutes it’ll be too late!” – question this urgency and stay one step ahead of the fraudster
    Messages that pile on the time pressure aim to prevent you from considering them critically. Therefore, deliberately take your time and view the source of the information, as well as the logic behind the situation and the urgency expressed, with skepticism.
  • “… otherwise we’ll have to take legal action.” – listen to your apprehension but don’t start to panic
    No one wants to pay fines or face serious consequences. Attempts to intimidate are thus a tried-and-tested method for forcing people to act rashly. This brief feeling of panic should ring the alarm bells. When you get a scare such as this, always remember to keep calm and check whether these messages have any truth in them.

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  • “This simple trick will solve all your problems” – there are no simple solutions for desperate situations
    In exceptional circumstances and stressful times, criminals exploit people’s desperation by promising supposedly simple solutions, mostly in the form of ways to make money fast. Therefore, be particularly careful if something seems too good to be true. It’s then usually not true at all.
  • “Oh, what’s that?” – inquisitiveness needs a clear head
    Things that are new and uncharted are very interesting. An unusual image with a link or an abandoned USB stick thus sometimes induce people to ignore their security concerns. Stay alert and resist the temptation. One wrong click is enough to infect the computer with malware.
  • “Could you help me please?” – compassion is admirable but it shouldn’t be boundless
    Friendly gestures, such as holding the door open or sharing your contact information, can give social engineers access to secure areas. The more sensitive access and data is, the more caution is required. Check out inquiries and stand your ground if you have any doubts.

Your common sense and constant vigilance are thus your best friends when it comes to guiding you through the everyday digital world. Prudence is the better part of valor when it comes to protecting important information.

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