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The Emotional Manipulation Tactics of Cyber Attackers

Aug 14, 2023

By Dan Polk

In the dynamic world of cyber threats, emotional manipulation stands out as a key tactic used by attackers. This method exploits human emotions to prompt impulsive actions and information disclosure. Let’s delve into this tactic and explore defenses against it.

What is Emotional Manipulation?

Emotional manipulation in cyberattacks involves triggering strong emotions like fear, urgency, curiosity, or compassion to impair judgment and spur hasty decisions. Common tactics include:

  • Fear: Creating a sense of danger, such as threats of financial loss or legal troubles, to coerce action.
  • Urgency: Sending messages that pressure quick action, bypassing careful thought.
  • Curiosity: Using intriguing emails or messages to lure recipients into clicking dangerous links or opening harmful attachments.
  • Compassion: Impersonating someone in need or a charity to extract personal or financial information.

How to Protect Yourself

Defending against emotional manipulation requires awareness and caution. Here are key strategies:

  • Stay Calm and Analyze: When you receive urgent or alarming communications, pause and think it through. Don’t act hastily without confirming the message’s authenticity.
  • Verify Sources: Be skeptical of unexpected requests, especially for sensitive information. Confirm the sender’s identity through direct contact.
  • Educate and Train: Increase awareness of emotional manipulation tactics. Regular training and open discussions about cybersecurity are vital in workplaces.
  • Implement Multi-Factor Authentication: Use multi-factor authentication to add an additional security layer to your online accounts.
  • Report Suspicious Activities: If you come across dubious communications, report them to the appropriate authorities or your IT department immediately.


Emotional manipulation is a significant threat in the realm of cyberattacks, targeting human vulnerabilities. By understanding and remaining alert to these tactics, we can protect ourselves and our data. It’s crucial to verify the authenticity of communications, stay informed, and report any suspicious activities. Together, we can build a secure digital environment and safeguard our personal and organizational data against these manipulative cyber threats.