How a Personality Trait Puts You at Risk for Cybercrime

Michigan State University

Impulse online shopping, downloading music and compulsive email use are all signs of a certain personality trait that make you a target for malware attacks. New research from Michigan State University examines the behaviors – both obvious and subtle – that lead someone to fall victim to cybercrime involving Trojans, viruses and malware.

“People who show signs of low self-control are the ones we found more susceptible to malware attacks,” said Tomas Holt, professor of criminal justice and lead author of the research. “An individual’s characteristics are critical in studying how cybercrime perseveres, particularly the person’s impulsiveness and the activities that they engage in while online that have the greatest impact on their risk.”

Holt said, “People who show signs of low self-control are the ones we found more susceptible to malware attacks.” He also said low self-control suggests shortsightedness, negligence, physical versus verbal behavior, and an inability to postpone gratification.

The researchers evaluated this trait among some 6,000 study participants, and analyzed their computers’ behaviors that could signal malware and infection, like slower processing times, crashes, and unexpected pop-ups.

Said Holt, “If we can identify risk factors, we can work in tandem with technical fields to develop strategies that then reduce the risk factors for infection. It’s a pernicious issue we’re facing, so if we can attack from both fronts, we can pinpoint the risk factors and technical strategies to find solutions that improve protection for everyone.” Read the report.


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