Shostack + Friends Blog Archive


Risk Assessment is Hard

The BBC reports (TV personality) “Clarkson stung after bank prank” in which he published his bank account numbers in the newspaper:

The Top Gear host revealed his account numbers after rubbishing the furore over the loss of 25 million people’s personal details on two computer discs.

He wanted to prove the story was a fuss about nothing.

But Clarkson admitted he was “wrong” after he discovered a reader had used the details to create a £500 direct debit to the charity Diabetes UK.

Clarkson published details of his Barclays account in the Sun newspaper, including his account number and sort code. He even told people how to find out his address.

“All you’ll be able to do with them is put money into my account. Not take it out. Honestly, I’ve never known such a palaver about nothing,” he told readers.

It’s easy to mock (fun too!), but I’m not sure it’s the right response. Risk assessment is hard. Our instincts about how hard these things might be are often wrong. Criminals often live in places where it’s worth weeks or a month of their time to steal £500. That’s twice the average income in some places. Each risk assessment takes time and energy to perform.

As chaos is all around us, our ability to reasonably and quickly assess risk is stuck in another time.

Thanks to Phil Hallam-Baker and Ryan Singel for pointing this out. Phil has great video on his blog.

3 comments on "Risk Assessment is Hard"

  • I think it the right response, as I suggest on the blog. To mock, to state the truth, to demonstrate it, is where we are at. And to mock the “unexpected” result, as if “it wasn’t expected,” as if he doesn’t know what he’s doing. Gosh!
    Outside the UK, people are probably not aware of how .. popular and accurate Clarkson’s barbs can be. He’s worth a bob or two, and is a superlative showman. He just pulled a stunt that made everyone look stupid, and all for £500. That’s art!

  • PHB says:

    Lets give him a public awareness award.
    Heck, lets give ourselves some awards while we are at it.
    Adam does not mention that the videos include Jeremy setting fire to a car wash “which is basically made of err water”.
    We have to build security systems proof against the Clarksons of the world.

  • David Brodbeck says:

    It’s a good thing he hosts a car show and not a personal finance show. 🙂

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