Hacking the Human Mind: How Cyber Attackers Exploit Our Brains

Hello to all our cyber squirrels! Joining our series host, Selena Larson, is our co-host today, Tim Kromphardt. Together they welcome our special guest–Dr. Bob Hausmann, Proofpoint’s Manager of Learning Architecture and Assessments and a seasoned psychologist.

Our conversation explores how cyber threat actors exploit the different systems of thought in our brains and how attackers leverage our rapid, emotionally-driven responses (system one thinking) to bypass our more deliberate, rational processes (system two thinking).

Dr. Bob introduces us to the concept of cognitive biases, particularly normalcy bias, and how these mental shortcuts can shape our cyber defense strategies. He explains how organizations often fall into the trap of thinking “it won’t happen to us,” leading to underinvestment in critical security measures. Drawing parallels to historical events like the sinking of the Titanic and the COVID-19 pandemic, he underscores the importance of overcoming these biases to enhance preparedness.

We also talk about: 

  • Real-world implications and examples of social engineering attacks.
  • The impact of urgency and stress on decision-making in cybersecurity.
  • The alarming rise and mechanics of pig butchering scams.
  • The role of AI in scams and cybersecurity
  • Empathetic approaches to helping scam victims

Resources mentioned:

For more information about Proofpoint, check out our website.

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Article Link: Hacking the Human Mind: How Cyber Attackers Exploit Our Brains