How Hackers Exploit Your Emotions in Attacks
4 min readJul 7, 2021

Our previous articles talked about how social engineering attacks happen and gave examples of such attacks. Hackers take advantage of their victims’ vulnerabilities, especially in social engineering attacks. When they communicate, they try to trap you by taking advantage of your emotions. So how do hackers exploit your emotions in attacks? Which of your feelings do they abuse the most?

How Hackers Exploit Your Emotions in Attacks

1. Hackers play on your curiosity.

Hackers follow the events that make a lot of media noise and then play on your curiosity to get what they want. For example, you may receive an e-mail containing highly confidential information about an important magazine event. Hackers often put this confidential data in email attachments and ask you to download it. When you download the attachment, your computer is infected with malware.

2. Hackers can scare you by saying you’re in trouble.

Hackers claim you’re in trouble for activating your sense of fear. You may receive an email that you have been accused of tax fraud. They may text you, telling you that you need to call the number they said immediately to avoid arrest or criminal charges. We know that many people receive such emails, especially during tax collection periods. People are worried about their taxes during such periods. Hackers also take advantage of this situation.

3. Hackers may abuse your charity.

Most people want to be trusted by someone or to help someone else. Hackers target two or three people working in a company to exploit this desire. He does research on these people and usually sends them an email that appears to be from their boss. By email, they can request help with an accounting-related issue. Often requested information is passwords, employee tax information and similar sensitive information. In this type of attack, hackers create an emergency situation, for example, emphasizing that you must make your payments on time. So the victim sends this information to help their administrator.

4. Hackers can use emergencies as an excuse.

The common feature of almost all social engineering attacks is that there is an emergency. For example, you may receive an e-mail from the customer service of a site you frequently use, asking you to verify your credit card information. Hackers may say in this email that this information needs to be updated urgently, or your account will be suspended. Since it is a famous brand and you use the site constantly, you give your credit card information, mailing address and phone number to the sender without hesitation. But this is a huge mistake. When you find out that your credit card has been stolen for a few days, it may be too late, and it could cost you thousands of dollars.

5. Hackers can make you get greedy.

Hackers know how people love to make money the easy way. For example, they can pretend to be an investment advisor and say they can triple your money without you having to do anything. In this way, they convince the victims that they can make a lot of money without actually doing anything. For this, they use basic human emotions such as trust and greed. Hackers tell their victims that they must enter their bank account information and send the money immediately. Since these types of emails are very persuasive, many people fall victim to scams this way.

How Hackers Exploit Your Emotions in Attacks: How to Avoid Social Engineering?

To be protected from social engineering, you must create a safety culture in your company that focuses on human emotions and risk. You can only protect yourself and your company from social engineering attacks by changing behaviour. Your employees should understand how easily they can be tricked or deceived by a social engineering attack and be warier of emails, voicemails, SMS or other methods of cyberattack.

Changing human behaviour takes a lot of time, and you may have a hard time in this process. You can facilitate and accelerate this process with a human-centred approach to security awareness training. This method is the best way to develop an effective cybersecurity culture in your company. So how can you do this?

  1. Schedule regular training with cybersecurity awareness tools.
  2. Test yourself with phishing simulations and identify your shortcomings.
  3. Respond to suspicious situations immediately with incident response tools.

How Hackers Exploit Your Emotions in Attacks: How to Fight Your Ego?

Everyone thinks that you will never fall victim to phishing or any other social engineering attack. But hackers can also take advantage of your belief in yourself. That’s why all your employees need to experience first-hand how social engineering works. Phishing simulations, interactive training with information about human nature are perfect for this. Once you have done this, you can fully protect yourself against social engineering by using our tools, such as incident response. You can visit our website to take a look at our other tools.