Tech Talk: Humans and Psychology

By David Shinn

“Our focus on Technology is about Humans, not about Machines.” This has been our company motto since we started in business 30 years ago. Most of the problems that a business experiences are caused by their own employees. This includes contracting viruses & malware, causing data breaches and falling victim to other scams that jeopardize corporate assets and intellectual property.

Charlatans, scammers and hackers have been around since the beginning of time… preying on the unsuspecting human for profit and gain. Hackers use psychology to influence human behavior a million times a day… taking advantage of emotions and using them to persuade the user to click a button, open an email attachment or call an 800 number. Hackers are masters of psychology and behavioral science.


Social Hacking / Social Media

Wikipedia defines social hacking as the act of attempting to manipulate outcomes of social behavior through orchestrated actions. The general function of social hacking is to gain access to private information. Most often, social hacking attacks are achieved by becoming an impersonating actor who is known by the victim. This is done through pre-meditated research and planning to gain victims’ confidence.

The use of social media in today’s world gives hackers most of the ammunition they need. People post everything about their life on Facebook, to include family member names, photos, home locations, vacation schedules, church affiliations, political views, schools where their children go, etc. There are 20+ other social media sites that hackers use to find information about you to include LinkedIN, SnapChat and Instagram.

The current scam is for a hacker to take your personal photos and name to create a new Facebook profile that they control. They use your friends list to connect with all of your contacts… and then they start using phishing methods to scam your friends-- using their love and friendship of you for the next round of psychology scams.

An easy resolution to combat this identity theft is edit your Facebook settings to change the privacy so that only your friends can see your content and your friends list. ShinnTech can provide you a list of settings to update if you need it.  It is my opinion that Facebook is the #1 threat to your personal safety and privacy. See this online article: 

Your special power

Honestly…and I don’t mean to insult anyone… the best defense to protect against being taken advantage of in any form is a special power called common sense. We are so busy in our daily lives that we don’t thoroughly read emails or listen to voice mail with DETAIL in mind. Pay attention to details.

You always need to be evaluating your environment for possible threats. If you were in your car at a stop light and a stranger was walking towards you, wouldn’t you roll up the windows and make sure the doors were locked? Or, would you just not think about a possible threat until you were actually being robbed? The real answer to the above should tell you how well you will do in this electronic world of dealing with thousands of strangers on a daily basis.

Testing & Education

Industry studies show that employee mistakes cause a majority of data breaches and costs for support response to virus and malware attacks. By using an employee vulnerability assessment, your staff can receive simulated phishing attacks with recorded results. If they fail a “test”, they will receive an email with an education video. There are many facets to the services offered, but the main goal is to turn your staff into the main line defense for protecting your business assets. There are many companies that provide this type of service, just do a search in Google.