Calculating the fraud risks of the digital era


The phone you’re using to upload pictures could be a tool criminals use to defraud you

Could you live without your mobile device?  In 2017, admitting that you can’t is hardly a cause for shame.

Used continually for navigation, mobile purchases, downloading video, browsing news sites, exchanging WhatsApp messages — and even the occasional phone call — our mobile devices are now part of us.  Accompanying the upside of the digital revolution the human kind experiences, are many new threats and risks.  And as digital technology continues to evolve at a frantic rate, keeping pace with the increased risks presents an enormous challenge.

Cyber Security Vulnerabilities are Turning into Fraud Enablers

To understand how the technology is fast being exploited for illicit gain, let’s look at Account Take Over (ATO) fraud, which while having been around for years, is now taking on a new life, thanks to digital technology.

ATO fraud occurs when a fraudster, posing as a genuine customer, succeeds in gaining control of a mobile user’s account and performs unauthorized transactions with their service provider.

In the past, most breaches were attributed to social engineering (tricking people into breaking normal security procedures through a human interaction). But today, fraudsters have evolved.  Instead, they purchase private information such as credit card details from the darknet for as little as $15.

The spread of mobile malware (mobile malware allows a malicious user to remotely control a device, and/or steal personal information stored on it) is another modern-day example of ATO fraud.  Sometimes our curiosity is stronger than our sense of caution, and the mobile users clicks an illicit hyperlink which compromises the device.

Once a device is compromised, the attacker gains free access to control the device from any location without the owner’s knowledge.  They can generally access all information on the device, including passwords, which the attacker can then use to launch a take-over attack of the user’s financial accounts. .

The Future: a World of Cyber Anarchy?

While the impact of fraud on the individual is clear, there is also a wider issue at stake: the effect on larger organizations, institutions and governments.  Today, the need to adapt to the digital world has become almost universal.  On one hand, this is due to considerations such as improving customer experience, efficiency and reducing operational costs.  But accompanying the benefits are huge security risks — far greater than has been the case until now.

Imagine the implications of a successful cyber-attack on one of the more than 1,100 operational satellites that provide communication services to populations worldwide.  The result would cause chaos and almost certain loss of life.

Awareness is Key

To combat the increasing threat of cyber-fraud, awareness and smart strategies are key.

As individuals, we need to be constantly aware of potential cyber-attacks that can cause us damage, either financially, privacy-related, or otherwise.  As such, we must ensure that we act responsibly when it comes to our “digital behavior”.  For commercial entities and national institutions expert advisory services need to be a part of the transformation process.  Only such an approach will ensure that risks are minimized and systems are adequately secured to protect both the organization and its customers.

To learn more about Revenue Guard’s cyber fraud services & solutions, please contact   

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