Distracted in Target

It was an average Sunday…laundry, errands, football. I was standing in the checkout line at my favorite store, Target, when my son texted to remind me to get the Tostitos Scoop chips, he asked for which I of course forgot because I was already plotting out the trip to my next stop trying to circumvent the lazy Sunday drivers. So, out of line and back into the store to find the chips. Along the way, my phone was going off like the winner of a Las Vegas slot machine jackpot. While trying to navigate the aisles and all of the wreckless cart drivers (me included) I pulled out my phone to start scanning through the barrage of emails. Let’s start there, I am not a good scanner.


It was all pretty harmless…an email from Apple suggesting that someone signed onto my account from an unknown device. Immediately, I felt my body temperature rise to a volcanic level. No doubt one of my boys allowed a friend to sign onto our account, or so I thought. Instead of pausing to check with said boys, I clicked on the potential phishing email. You know when you are in the process of doing something and you realize you should NOT be doing it a second too late…yep, that was me, in Target. My volcanic state quickly turned to panic: How could this happen? How could I fall for this? Take-backs allowed? Then the irrational set in: If we can erase this, I promise to drive slower, cook more often, not scream at my kids! But alas, I clicked, and I’m one of those people that know better.

I was distracted, end of story. Think about an average day. You are probably using different devices in different contexts of your life. You may use one PC at work and another at home, you might have a personal phone and a work phone, you might have a tablet or a reader that you wind down with at night. What if you are on the train, or in your car and your kids are screaming in the back seat, or you are in a crowded Target looking for chips…is your resiliency lower? Probably.

Accepting that there are limits to your superpowers and your ability to juggle multiple things at one time is hard. [Flashback to the time I was taking my son to preschool and I loaded the car with everything but him. I did realize before I got out of the driveway though.] So, in spite of my setback, I paused to reflect on what I needed to do next time to avoid being a thoughtless clicker. Three things came to mind:

  • Slow down: When life is at its most hectic, that’s probably not the best time to be hurrying through electronic messages of any kind. Just like texting and driving…you think you are only looking down for a second and then BAM...you hit the car in front of you. In my case, I was in a hurry to get through a few messages and we know how that turned out.
  • Not a good time to become emotional: The panic dialogue in my head was not helpful, I needed to operate calmly during this clicking crisis. The rate at which people are falling for mobile phishing attacks is at an all-time high. Beating yourself up over it won’t help.
  • Adapt and recover: You need to be as vigilant on your mobile device as you are on your PC. The more you know, the better you will be equipped to handle future attacks, because there will always be more. Check out 20 Ways to Block Mobile Attacks for great guidance in managing your mobile device.

Life will continue to throw you curveballs, make you busier, and keep you distracted. Being more prepared with security awareness training will allow for less panic and more useful actions.


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