Cybercriminals Love These Personality Traits

Identity thieves have a type — but cybercrime of all sorts relies on personality. That's what one criminal justice researcher has found, according to a new study from Michigan State University. In other words, some people just can't help wandering into a lure.

We love characters in stories who are impulsive: They're fun and unpredictable and narratively chaotic. But in real life, low self-control often puts us in the path of people who are looking to benefit from impulsivity. "People who show signs of low self-control are the ones we found more susceptible to malware attacks," said MSU's Tomas Holt in a press release. "[W]e find a correlation between low self-control and victimization; people with this trait put themselves in situations where they are near others who are motivated to break the law."

What Holt means is that people who look for quick workarounds often encounter the more exploitive online software and actors. Think of pirating an episode of TV because you're impatient for the official download, only to find the file included a virus. Outcomes can also include your computer processing data more slowly, frequent browser crashes, and your browser's homepage being changed without your input.

This doesn't mean more cautious users can let their guard down — while many passive sites of personal data are too boring to hack, no one is totally safe from identity theft at the scale we see it today. Look into any form of password protection you can find, and if you know you're impatient, take an extra moment to consider how tempting that temptation really is.