Dark Patterns

A dark pattern is a design tactic attackers use to manipulate their victims into performing actions they’d ordinarily not do. These dark patterns are constructed to hamper the victim’s free will, allowing the attacker to exploit their cognitive biases.

You can find dark patterns in many different online platforms including mobile applications and social media platforms. 

Examples of dark patterns

  • Misdirection: A dark pattern attack will aim to redirect the victim’s attention from specific information or decisions to nudge them toward the desired outcome. 
  • Forced continuity: Dark patterns can make canceling subscriptions quite difficult, often burying the option beneath multiple needless steps. 
  • Hidden costs: A dark pattern can sneak in hidden charges right before you finalize your transaction process. 
  • Sneak into Basket: this type of dark pattern attack involves users discovering the presence of items in their online shopping cart even though they didn’t pick them. 

There are more examples, but these are the most common versions of dark patterns. You can always identify them in design techniques that target influencing user behavior. Note that not all of these techniques are considered dark patterns. The desire to manipulate the user is what sets them apart.