Inge van der Beijl on how human psychology shapes the cyber landscape

22 May 2024 · 2 min read

Cybercriminals only have one aim – earning money – and they will do everything to achieve it.

In today’s digital age, understanding the link between psychology and cyber security is more important than ever. Cybercriminals exploit human vulnerabilities to manipulate individuals into falling for phishing scams or disclosing sensitive information. The toll these psychological attacks and the ensuing negotiations have on cyber professionals further deepens the concerns. In the fourth episode of our Human Firewall Podcast, Dr. Niklas Hellemann and Inge van der Beijl discuss these topics and ways organizations can defend themselves against attacks exploiting the human factor.



Listen now

Episode 4: Find out why psychology and behavioral science are the foundation of building a strong cyberoriented organization.

Overview of episode 4

Want to skip to the topics that matter most to you? Our detailed overview with timestamps allows you to jump straight to those sections.


00:00:57 – 00:03:30

Welcome and introduction to Inge van der Beijl, our expert in this conversation.

00:03:30 – 00:12:02

Why cybercriminals leverage behavioral science, psychology, and human interactions to target companies.

00:12:02 – 00:18:20

How ransomware and other monetization models are shaping the ongoing professionalization of cybercrime.

00:18:20 – 00:31:16

Insights into the negotiation process with cybercriminals.

00:31:16 – 00:46:02

How can companies protect themselves against cyberattacks and bring more attention to the topic at the board level?

Background dots

Highlights & key learnings

You can have your system fully protected with technical measures and security management, but if you don’t strengthen your human layer, you’re lacking capacity.

  • Human element in cyber security: Human error remains a significant factor in cyber security breaches, with approximately 90% related to human actions or oversight. This emphasizes the importance of integrating psychological and behavioral science into cyber security strategies to mitigate risks effectively.
  • Attack techniques: Attackers leverage psychological tactics, such as urgency and authority, in phishing emails to manipulate individuals into disclosing sensitive information or taking actions that compromise security.
  • Evolving ransomware trends: Ransomware has evolved beyond mere data encryption to include data theft, increasing the stakes for affected organizations, both private and public. Attackers now employ double or triple extortion tactics, adding pressure during negotiations.
  • Response strategies: An effective response to ransomware attacks requires a multidimensional approach, including technical solutions, crisis management plans, and employee training.
  • Behavioral science in defense: Leveraging behavioral science on the defensive side involves creating a human-oriented and cyber-safe culture through training, organizational landscape design, and leadership engagement.
  • Psychological impact on professionals: Cyber security professionals face significant stress due to the nature of their roles, including high-stakes decision-making during crises. Providing support and resources to address mental health concerns is crucial.
  • Board-level awareness: It’s essential to raise awareness of cyber security risks at the board level to secure necessary resources and support for cyber security initiatives. Engaging in dialogue, sharing stories, and maintaining continuous attention effectively keep the conversation alive.
  • Understanding and trust: Understanding why the attack happened is vital for effective cyber security responses. Building trust through conversations with employees on all levels can enhance cyber security resilience and build a stronger human layer.

The combination of training, landscape, and leadership is the golden ticket toward a cyber-safe culture.

Deepen your knowledge: Further information

  • Conti Leaks: Insights into the hacker group, their hierarchy and organizational structure, and how they operate.
  • Mental well-being and cybercrime: Research from the Faculty of Behavioural, Management and Social Sciences, University of Twente, about the psychological impact of cybercrime on victims.
  • Rise of hacktivism in the Ukraine conflict: How hacktivism influences the Russia-Ukraine conflict.
  • Human Risk Review: Our 2023 report reveals the state of cyber security and awareness and how organizations can benefit from behavioral science insights.

Discover more in the podcast

In this episode, the insights expert Inge van der Beijl reveals how people are on both sides of the cyber landscape. By focusing on human behavior and analyzing the psychology behind attacks from both perspectives, we can give employees the resources to recognize and deflect various attacks.

If you enjoyed this podcast episode and would like to continue exploring Inge van der Beijl’s talk, you can watch her full talk at HuFiCon23, along with many others, by visiting our HufiCon livestreams.



Read more

Discover inspiring talks and valuable expert knowledge

You might also be interested in:

Do you want to stay ahead of the cyber game?

Sign up for our newsletter to receive the latest cyber security articles, events, and resources. No spam, only content that truly matters.

Newsletter visual