Jan 302015

There's a game called "victim blaming" which is where people decide the victim of a crime is somehow partially or wholely respomsible – the old "if she hadn't worn such a short skirt …".

Which is rubbish of course. The perpetrator of a crime is the one responsible for carrying it out whatever the circumstances.

But the shouting down of the "victim blamers" can perhaps drown out messages that allow risk reduction, and allow certain myths to be perpetuated. For example, many women believe that they are more at risk from strangers whereas most rapists are known to the victim.

Take a slightly less contentious crime – a phishing spam that criminals use to empty the bank accounts of the victim. Whilst the criminal here is obvious – the person who used stolen credentials to empty the bank account, the criminal needed the victim to make certain risky decisions.

2015-01-29_1517As you cannot look at the link contained within that, it's worth pointing out that if you paste the URL into a notebook, you will get a brazilian site … and I strongly suspect that Lloyds Bank is not very likely to use a Brazilian site (.br) for hosting their online account service.

And we call such victims "gullible". In the case of phishing, there are some simple procedures to follow :-

  1. Email doesn't necessarily come from whom it claims to be from. I can send you an email that will look as if it comes from Goodluck Johnathon without having anything to do with his email account.
  2. Don't click on links in emails.
  3. If your bank sends an email asking you to do something, shut down the email and open a web browser and use your existing way of getting to your bank's web site. Same applies to shopping sites, your workplace's IT department, etc.
  4. If you are determined to use a link from an email, copy the link into a notebook and read it. Does it make sense? Does the first part mention an organisation that has nothing to do with the organisation it is supposedly from? Don't trust it.

Plus a whole bunch more.

Detailing and quantifying risks isn't victim blaming; it's empowering someone to make educated decisions about their behaviour