Cybercrime and Mental Health

(Image credit: fbi.gov)

I was a victim of cybercrime. Not once. But twice.

One, from an Indian-looking “CEO” of a software company. And the other is a fellow national selling tech gadgets.

Although the total amount of money stolen from me online appears minimal, I’m amazed by the psychological expertise (not merely technical) demonstrated by cyber criminals.

What can psychology teach us about the why and how cyber criminals operate?

Dr. Lee Hadington, a University professor of cyberpsychology in London writes:

“We think of cyber criminals as kids in their bedrooms just trying it out. But these people are doing these as a business, so it’s no surprise that they research what works and what doesn’t.”

A most obvious motivation – for financial gain – is cited here by Dr. Hadington. Cyber criminals commit fraud in business for that reason.

Perhaps there could be other types of psychological motivation, like intellectual challenge or crusading to make a social/political point, that fuel and drive hackers to do what they do.

But experts point out that an overwhelming majority of cyber criminals do it for the money.

Cyber criminals use “psychological levers” to launch their cyber attacks on susceptible victims.

These are often what experts call “social engineering” to get the desired response.

For example, in Facebook (where one of my attackers attack me!), cyber criminals only need to understand how individuals feel and work within a social setting, and exploit that.

I learned my little lesson. And you should too … not wait for it to happen to you.

It can blow our mind the present enormity of this problem, worldwide.

According to CSD cyber security watch dog:

  • The cost of cyber crime is predicted to be 6 trillion(!) dollars annually by 2021. Back in 2015, it was half that. 
  • Cyber crime was the second most reported type of crime in 2016 globally.

We all need to sufficiently protect ourselves from this kind of attack on our mental health as well as financial well-being.

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