Using FUD to cause anxiety – Common Cybersecurity Writing Mistakes

November 20, 2019 posted by


– We’re now ready for
mistake number seven, and that is using FUD to cause
your readers to feel anxious. So to see what I mean by FUD,
take a look at this example. FUD of course in this context refers to fear, uncertainty, and doubt. We tend to include FUD
in our content sometimes even if we try not to, which means that we’re over-blowing the
threat and we’re avoiding being specific about the risks
that we want the user to think about or rather the risks that we want the reader to think about. So spend a few moments looking at this example and see if you agree with me that there might
be a little bit too much an anxiety-inducing FUD here. What do you think? What your readers want is to understand the specific mitigation approaches to the realistic and relevant risks that your writing talks about. So we should talk about risks. We should talk about the
items that the reader should be afraid of. But these items should be realistic, relevant to the reader and
they should be specific. These items should have
associated mitigation approaches, that is the difference between FUD and realistic risks that
your writing might describe. So here’s my attempt to take the ideas that you saw on the previous screen and relay them in a way that I think is more practical, more constructive and that avoids some of the FUD factor that you may have felt when
reading the original version of this text. Take a look and see if you agree that this is more effective
cybersecurity writing. So my advice to you is to exercise caution when using fear to frame
problems in your writing. Now as you know, the fear
of a cybersecurity breach can motivate your readers
to pay attention, yes. You need to use fear ’cause
after all organizations are paying attention to security because they’re concerned about
risk and that means that they’re being, well they’re afraid of certain things happening. They want to anticipate,
protect themselves against those risk factors. So you can and should
use fear in your writing, just make sure that you focus
on the specific risk factors that are relevant to your readers. Make sure that you propose
a plan to mitigate that fear and avoid just indiscriminately raising uncertainty and doubt. Be afraid, be very afraid. Well, what does that mean? Be specific. Make sure that the risks are
relevant to your readers. Propose a mitigation plan. Avoid the FUD. The reason why it’s so
important to avoid FUD is because while fear when used correctly and proportionately is effective when discussing security concerns, what you want to avoid
is causing your reader to feel anxious. You see fear is a reaction
to a specific threat that might have a countermeasure. In contrast, an anxiety is
a general state of distress. And the problem with
anxiety is that it can scare people into inaction. That’s exactly what you need to avoid by staying away from FUD.

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