Victimology is a very important branch of criminal psychology. It is as important, if not more, to know whom the criminal is likely to target. Preemptive action can only be taken by the law if they know who is likely to commit crime as well as who is likely to be targeted. All criminals – at least the intelligent ones – will only attack those who exhibit certain vulnerabilities. Just as a robber will never think of robbing someone who is armed, so are cybercriminals careful about the personalities of those they choose to prey on. If you think you are completely safe from cybercrime, you may have to think again.
There is no doubt that cybercriminals are most fond of people who are easy to deceive. On a more obvious level, phishers are best able to fool such people into buying into their scams or being drawn into legal traps. Usually older people are prone to being scammed as they are more trusting and helpful towards others.
On a more dangerous level, however, many, especially children, believe that the people they meet on the Net are as friendly and worthy of trust as real people are. Almost all victims of cyberstalkers or online paedophiles are prone to trusting people and making friends easily.
An even more dangerous aspect of this is the dissemination of information regarding propaganda or weapon-construction. (click here for information on cyberterrorism). Gullible teenagers or young adults in countries with unstable political climates can be swayed by such information, leading to heightening of national tension.
For money or “items”
Many out there are desperate for easy ways to make cash. Hence, they easily fall for emails that say things like “Get rich fast!” and follow the instructions in the emails which most others are likely to treat as junk. They are almost definitely being led to legal and financial entanglements out of which only the perpetrator will make profits. There are others who are attracted to advertisements related to improving one’s physical image. Ridiculous products such as “cheap, effective breast enlargements” etc. claim to boost their self-esteem at minimum cost. This explains why there are so many of such emails in circulation these days. (click here to find out more about spam). These ads are almost certainly nothing more than means to extract credit card numbers and render the reader bankrupt.
Cyberstalker or paedophile victims are almost always children and especially teenagers who are desperate for friendship. They try very hard, often too hard, to make online friends with whom to boost their ego. The result is that they are much more likely to become prey to those who wish to whet their sexual appetites and manipulate their victims to this end.
There are a lot of people in the world today whose knowledge of the Net is just enough to chat with their friends and maybe get information from here and there. They are totally incapable of protecting their computers from malicious programmes, hackers and maybe even spam. Worse, they may not even be aware of the existence of such crimes, hence become pawns in the hands of the professional criminal. They are usually satisfied with their knowledge and see no need to upgrade.
There are also people who fulfill none of these categories but are just unlucky enough to be at the wrong place at the wrong time, in cyberspace that is. A full-scale Dos attack (click here to find out about network attacks) or a self-replicating and highly advanced virus can cause great damage to networks or PCs and the individual may not in anyway be to blame. An element of surprise does exist in cyberspace. But it certainly does help to be prepared (click here to find about preventive methods).
Working with Victims of Computer Network Hacks
Victims must speak up to beat cybercrime
The Importance of Victimology in Criminal Profiling