Met police chief says online fraud victims shouldn't be 'rewarded' by banks

Online security

A top-ranking police officer has suggested that banks shouldn't be providing protection to consumers who get stung by online fraud, as this is simply rewarding bad behaviour, in his words.

Sir Bernard Hogan-Howe, who is the Metropolitan police commissioner, made some controversial comments when speaking to the Times.

In the face of rising incidents of cybercrime, he feels consumers should take more responsibility in terms of protecting themselves online, believing that removing compensation (in some form) would encourage better practice such as using more secure passwords and installing antivirus software (and keeping that software updated).

Hogan-Howe said: "If you are continually rewarded for bad behaviour you will probably continue to do it but if the obverse is true you might consider changing behaviour … The system is not incentivising you to protect yourself."

He then suggested that banks could pursue a policy whereby if a fraud victim was found to have failed in updating their software, they would only get half their money back – and this would ensure folks did perform regular updates.

Astonishingly misjudged

As you would expect, consumer groups weren't happy about these comments.

Which executive director Richard Lloyd issued a statement to say: "With online fraud increasing, this is an astonishingly misjudged proposal from the Met Police Commissioner.

"When Which investigated last year, we found too often that banks were dragging their feet when dealing with fraud. The priority should be for banks to better protect their customers, rather than trying to shift blame on to the victims of fraud."

Of course, the trouble with placing the burden of more responsibility on the consumer is that means less responsibility for the banks, and therefore likely less money spent on developing security for these financial organisations. Which wouldn't be good news for anyone…

Evaluating how much at fault an individual might be in such a system would also be a nightmare – surely there would be a lot of time and effort spent in investigating culpability, time that could be better spent by banks bolstering their defences.

Tighter defences aren't something banks are always interested in pursuing that closely though, at least according to some recent research, which suggests that the simple fact is it's cheaper to deal with fraud incidents as they crop up, rather than actually spend on preventing them happening in the first place.

It's also true that avoiding getting tripped up online is getting increasingly tough, even for those who are relatively careful. You can, for example, be hit by malware simply by visiting a major website like the BBC – which (among other big media sites) was recently affected by malware-laden ads served up by a compromised third-party ad network.

Via: The Guardian

Darren is a freelancer writing news and features for TechRadar (and occasionally T3) across a broad range of computing topics including CPUs, GPUs, various other hardware, VPNs, antivirus and more. He has written about tech for the best part of three decades, and writes books in his spare time (his debut novel - 'I Know What You Did Last Supper' - was published by Hachette UK in 2013).