This week is Mental Health Awareness Week which KnowBe4’s Anna Collard says is the perfect time to pause, take a breath and think about cyber mindfulness. According to research, over half (52%) of people surveyed admitted that stress causes them to make more mistakes and 47% of those who had fallen for a phishing attack attributed it to being distracted.
To help encourage cyber mindfulness and reduce employees’ susceptibility to social engineering and phishing attacks, Anna Collard, SVP of content strategy and evangelist at KnowBe4, has prepared her top tips and exercises for increasing cyber mindfulness.
Stop trying to multi-task. Humans are not equipped to handle more than one task at a time. Rather, we context-switch every time we move from one task to another, burning up glucose and losing energy as we do – this can make us tired and in extreme cases, anxious and depressed. Instead, try to focus on one thing at a time. Go for periods where you don’t look at your mobile phone or check an email straight away. Start a task and see it through before moving on to something else. It may take practice, but you’ll feel more accomplished and focused the more you manage it.
Take pause. If you receive an email or text message for example, and it triggers a strong emotional response – the urge to do something quickly, panic or even a strong positive emotion – slow down, take pause and think about the decision you’re about to make before instinctively reacting which may cause you to click on a malicious link or download a bad attachment.
Build time into meetings for decompression. Instead of having a 30-minute meeting, say to your team that you’ll have a 25-minute meeting and leave the last five minutes just to decompress and switch off from the cognitive overload of too many messages, Slack, WhatsApp, email etc. Listen to some binaural beats and get into a higher brain state. It will make you more focused, happier and also less likely to click on phishing or other social engineering.
Anna has also provided three exercises to do to improve cyber mindfulness and focus at work:
Breathing with movement. Stand up, inhale deeply and raise your arms. As you exhale, bring your arms down to your sides. Inhale and bring your arms up to centre and this time as you exhale, push the air away from you. Inhale, come back to centre and one more time, push forward as you exhale. Inhale back to centre, exhale pushing your arms out horizontally; inhale back to centre and last exhale place your arms down to your sides.
Ground your senses. Focus your senses on three things you can firstly hear, then smell and then taste. This grounds the senses and calms, bringing you into the moment.
Box breathing. Breathe in for a count of four, hold for four and then breathe out for four. It’s as simple as that. Repeat as needed