New Delhi: New research digs into the behaviours — both obvious and subtle-that may put you at risk of falling victim to cyber crimes involving Trojans, viruses, and malware. “People who show signs of low self-control are the ones we found more susceptible to malware attacks,” says Tomas Holt, professor of criminal justice at Michigan State University 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.” Low self-control, Holt explains, comes in many forms. This type of person shows signs of short-sightedness, negligence, physical versus verbal behaviour, and an inability to delay gratification. “Self-control is an idea that is been looked at heavily in criminology in terms of its connection to committing crimes,” Holt says. “But we find a correlation between low self-control and victimisation; people with this trait put themselves in situations where they are near others who are motivated to break the law.”

As Holt explains, hackers and cybercriminals know that people with low self-control are the ones who will be scouring the internet for what they want-or think they want-which is how they know what sites, files, or methods to attack. Understanding the psychological side of self-control and the types of people whose computers become infected with malware-and who likely spread it to others-is critical in fighting cybercrime, Holt says. What people do online matters, and the behavioral factors at play are entirely related to risks.