Technical Report: Understanding Scam Victims – Seven Principles For Systems Security

Authors: Frank Stajano, Paul Wilson, University of Cambridge, Computer Laboratory 
Date: August 2009
Audience: All Audiences 

Language: British English

Keywords: Understanding Scam Victims, Victims of Online Scams, Systems Security, Cybercrime, Cybersecurity, Frank Stajano, Paul Wilson, University of Cambridge, Computer Laboratory

Abstract:

The success of many attacks on computer systems can be traced back to the security engineers not understanding the psychology of the system users they meant to protect. We examine a variety of scams and “short cons” that were investigated, documented and recreated for the BBC TV programme The Real Hustle and we extract from them some general principles about the recurring behavioural patterns of victims that hustlers have learnt to exploit.

We argue that an understanding of these inherent “human factors” vulnerabilities, and the necessity to take them into account during design rather than naïvely shifting the blame onto the “gullible users”, is a fundamental paradigm shift for the security engineer which, if adopted, will lead to stronger and more resilient systems security.

Understanding Scam Victims:
Seven Principles For Systems Security

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