Understanding Scam Victims

BBC has broadcast a set of TV documentaries “The Real Hustle“. In this documentaries, Paul Wilson, a con-artist, scams real people with real scams. When you look them, you are upset because they are sometimes extremely simple but devastating. For instance:

Frank Stajano from Cambridge Computer Laboratory has co-authored with Paul Wilson a paper that analyses these scams. The analysis extracts seven principles that may drive human behavior:

  •   The Distraction Principle
  •   The Social Compliance Principle
  •   The Herd Principle
  •   The Dishonesty Principle
  •   The Deception Principle (Dear to Mitnik :Happy: )
  •   The Need and Greed Principle
  •   The Time Principle

Frank explains how these principles may infer with security systems. We all know that human is the weakest link. Knowing that human behavior is driven by these principles, it may be possible to build systems that mitigate the importance of the human weak link.

Most of these principles are not new. Some have already been disclosed in books like “Beyond Fear” or “The science of fear”. Nevertheless, the paper is worth to read, even if it is just to better discover the world of scam (and may be increase our awareness and saving us in the future) Good summer reading.

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