Over recent years we have seen an increase in security breaches. A new breach seems to happen every day. During the Equifax data breach of 2017, more than 140 million people were affected. Just last week, the MEGA data breach exposed 773 million records. And the number of people affected is not the only thing increasing. Also growing is the fear of cyber attacks. Called Hacker Phobia, this fear can give rise to a number of mental health issues. Even more so if you have already been the victim of a security breach or hack. Victims can experience anything from anxiety and stress to depression.
Healthy Fear or Paranoia?
Most people with phobias can easily avoid that which they fear. Someone with a fear of drowning can avoid going into bodies of water. Those afraid of flying can simply avoid airplanes altogether. But how do you avoid the very thing that we are becoming more and more dependent upon?
How irrational is this fear? Should you really fear a data breach or your system getting hacked? Yes, you absolutely should be afraid. Because if it has not happened already, it will at some point in the future. Anyone can fall victim to a cyber attack. And the fear an impending cyber attack is very real. But there is a difference between being proactive out of fear or caution and being irrational. In some cases, fear can be healthy and productive. However, the key is to not let your fear turn into paranoia.
If you have ever experienced paranoia, you know how distressing it can be. Paranoia is an exaggerated, false belief that other people are watching or out to cause harm. Beliefs can include persecution, personal threats or conspiracies. It is a near constant belief that you are in harm’s way. And it can consume your life.
Overcoming the Fear
One in four people has regular thoughts filled with suspicion toward others. And almost everyone experiences paranoia at some point in their life. For most people, paranoia is temporary and mild. But for those with mental health issues, that fear can be paralyzing. I know first hand how crippling paranoia is. I suffer from a mental illness that causes me to have paranoid delusions. So how do you handle that persistent fear that you will become the victim of a cyber attack?
Unless you have a disorder that causes paranoid delusions, the first step is to take a deep breath and relax. Try to calm down and tell yourself that everything is OK. The next step is to reevaluate the situation. Challenge your fears and ask yourself why you are afraid of being hacked. While the threat is very much real, you should check your security settings and evaluate whether or not you are at serious risk.
Thirdly, ask yourself if it is likely. And if it is likely, how much? What are the odds of you getting hacked right now? Do you have any security measures in place, and if so are they up to date? Last, try to think in a more positive manner to alleviate anxiety. Try not to dwell on the fact that you might get hacked. Instead, focus on preventative measures to help prevent an attack or lessen the damage from one.
There is hope
There are steps you can take and practices you can put in place to lessen the impact of a cyber attack. A little fear is a good thing because it keeps you aware of the dangers that lurk on the internet. But it is important to not panic. Don’t let your fear turn into hacker phobia.
IamThePatRatt – The Bipolar Hacker
Hack the stigma. Hack the planet.