When it comes to cybersecurity, there’s a well-known saying that “the human is the weakest link.” More often than not, data breaches, hacks, and other security events can be traced not to the failure of a server but rather to human error (an employee falling victim to a phishing scam or a consumer sharing a one-time passcode with a fraudster, for example). While humans may be a vulnerability when it comes to cybersecurity, we are also the reason why the technology was created in the first place. This strange paradox is the reason why as more people rely on technology (whether it be to bank online, register for an iGaming site, or send money to a loved one), the less secure the technology is. It should come as no surprise then that as new business models, new technologies, and a global pandemic accelerate the shift towards a digital-first economy, fraud has reached unprecedented levels.
In light of this catch-22, the fundamental challenge facing companies today is how to balance convenience with security. While there are clear benefits associated with digital transformation as it enables tasks to be completed remotely and at the convenience of the consumer, there is also a profound cost- the increase in fraud and the proliferation of scams.
While scams are a global phenomenon, I would argue that my home country of the UK is arguably the scam capital of the world. Over the past four years, I have personally witnessed the negative impact fraudsters have on society as they continually target vulnerable residents, especially the elderly and digitally inexperienced. Despite efforts to curb scams, however, the number of victims and the amount of money stolen in the UK only continue to increase.
Until recently, scam mitigation methods were limited primarily to educating the consumer about scams and encouraging them to think twice before authorizing a transaction. This strategy is part of a noble effort that has made a positive impact. Despite these efforts, however, fraud losses continue to be astronomical. A recent report authored by UK Finance calculated the unauthorized financial fraud losses across payment cards, remote banking, and cheques at £783.8 million in 2020. Clearly, more work needs to be done to prevent scams.
Fortunately, a new and more ambitious era of collaboration has begun as financial services organizations, GSMA (an industry organization that represents the interests of mobile network operators), UK Finance, leading mobile operators, and industry-leading identity providers such as Prove all working together with a common goal: protecting consumers by preventing fraud. While it’s important not to give too much away so as not to inadvertently aid fraudsters, here’s our general aim:
Today, consumers are frequently socially engineered (aka fooled) into authorizing transactions that send their hard-earned money to fraudsters. Only after the money is gone do they realize they have been duped. To help consumers from falling for this scam, we are developing methods that can better flag this unusual activity while still ensuring an inclusive and convenient experience for consumers.
The learnings and cross-market collaboration will continue as Prove not only supports the delivery of technical elements but also provides rich consultative insight from over 10 years of experience focused on cryptographic authentication and the challenges seen across multiple geographies.
Prove is the first to provide dynamic insight on scam signals as part of live use cases today within the UK. The rich insight we glean fosters further opportunities to mitigate this plague and with our global footprint, it ensures collaboration can progress beyond the UK.
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