Feb 11

After A Breach … Now What?

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data breach excerpt_2

The news of the latest breach last week reported that tens of millions of customer and employee records were stolen by a sophisticated hacker incursion. The data lost is reported to include names, birth dates, Social Security numbers, and addresses.

The nature of the stolen data has the potential to create long-term headaches for the organization and tens of millions of individuals. Unlike a retailer or financial breach, where stolen payment cards can be deactivated and new ones issued, the theft of permanent identity information is, well, not easily corrected. You can’t simply reissue Social Security numbers, birth dates, names and addresses. What’s more, the data likely includes identity data on millions of dependent minors, who are prime targets for identity thieves and whose credit goes frequently unmonitored.

According to the Identity Theft Resource Center’s 2014 Data Breach Report, a record 783 breaches, representing 85 million records, occurred from January through September 2014 alone. The breaches have ranged across virtually every industry segment and data type.

So where does all this breached data go?

It goes into the massive, global underground marketplace for stolen data, where it’s bought and sold, and then used by cybercriminals and fraudsters to defraud organizations and individuals. Like any market, supply and demand determines price, and the massive quantity of recent breaches has made stolen identities more affordable to more fraudsters, exacerbating the overall problem. In fact, stolen health credentials can go for $10 each, about 10 or 20 times the value of a U.S. credit card number, according to Don Jackson, director of threat intelligence at PhishLabs, a cyber crime protection company.[1]

The big question: So what now?

The answer: Assume that all data has been breached, and act accordingly.

Such a statement sounds a bit trivial, but it’s a significant paradigm shift. It’s a clear-headed recognition of the implications of the ongoing, escalating covert war between cybercriminals and fraudsters, on one side, and organizations and consumers on the other.

For individuals, we need to internalize this fact: our data has likely been breached, and we need to become vigilant and defend ourselves. Sign up for a credit monitoring service that covers all three credit bureaus to be alerted if your data or ID is being used in ways that indicate fraud. Include your children, as well. A child’s identity is far more valuable to a fraudster as they know it can be several years before their stolen identity is detected. Many parents do not check their child’s credit regularly, if at all.

For organizations, it’s a war on two fronts: data protection and fraud prevention. And the stakes are huge, bigger than many of us recognize. We’re not just fighting to prevent financial theft, we’re fighting to preserve trust — trust between organizations and consumers, at the first level, and ultimately widespread consumer trust in the institutions of finance, commerce, and government.

We must collectively strive to win the war on data protection, no doubt, and prevent future data breaches. But what breaches illustrate is that, when fundamental identity data is breached, a terrible burden is placed on the second line of defense — fraud prevention.

Simply put, organizations must continually evolve their fraud prevention control and skills, and minimize the damage caused by stolen identity data. And we must do it in ways that reinforce the trust between consumers and organizations, enhance the customer experience, and frustrate the criminals.

At 41st Parameter, we are at the front lines of fraud prevention every day, and what we see are risks throughout the ecosystem. Account opening is a particular vulnerability, as consumer identity data obtained in the underground will undoubtedly be used to open lines of credit, submit fraudulent tax returns, etc. unbeknownst to the consumer. Since so much data has been breached, many of these new accounts will look “clean,” presenting a major challenge for traditional identity-based fraud and compliance solutions. But it’s more than new accounts — account takeover, transactions, loyalty, every stage is in jeopardy now that so much identity data is on the loose. Even the call center is vulnerable, as the very basis for caller authentication often relies on components of identity.

At 41st Parameter and Experian Fraud & Identity solutions, we advocate a comprehensive layered approach that leverages multiple solutions such as FraudNet, Precise ID, KIQ, and credit data to protect all aspects of the customer journey while ensuring a seamless, positive user experience across channels and lines of business. Read our fraud perspective paper to learn more.

Now is the time to take action.

[1] http://www.reuters.com/article/2014/09/24/us-cybersecurity-hospitals-idUSKCN0HJ21I20140924

Oct 09

#FraudLifecycle Series: The Right Amount of Authentication

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Our #fraudlifecycle series of blog posts intends to inform our audience about trends, challenges and strategies of addressing fraud. Make sure to follow the #fraudlifecycle conversation here and on Twitter at @41stParameter

In last week’s post we explored the topic of authentication’s role in a world of emerging technologies. This week, we chose to delve into the evergreen question: what is the best balance of authentication in fraud prevention?

Today’s Landscape

Today’s multi-device landscape promotes a number of different ways to complete online transactions. While this has prompted the number of online transactions to grow at an exponential rate, it also has instigated greater opportunities for fraud to occur. The key to enabling top-notch fraud prevention as fraud events escalate is to strike the proper balance of authentication. Here are some key points of view on the subject taken from our most recent webinar.

The Answer Is In The Data

There are many factors to consider when determining this balance. Michelle Brisby, senior fraud manager with Sephora Direct, said that the amount of authentication really depends on the business that it supports. She notes the differences between shipped goods merchants and digital merchants. Shipped goods allow for more time for verification prior to actual shipment, whereas in the digital realm the authentication process needs to happen immediately. But business categories aside, Brisby noted that knowing the data and understanding how to leverage the fraud tools in the transaction process is a sure-fire way to reduce false positive rates and ensure a good and memorable client-customer experience.

Dave Britton, from 41st Parameter, a part of Experian, agreed with Brisby’s point about the amount of authentication correlating to the business category. “At 41st Parameter we often discuss the attack rate against a business. Every business has a different attack rate. Part of that’s driven by the types of goods being sold and part of that’s driven by the methods of sale. It can even be shaped based on geography,” said Britton. He explained how this rate is important to cultivate and is calculable by comparing blocked fraud rates to what was lost. Britton maintains that this data-centric method is a sound way to balance authentication with the customer experience.

Food For Thought

While data appears to be ever important in discovering appropriate authentication amounts, the progressing instant gratification expectation of the customer is beginning to pose a challenge in maintaining this authentication balance. Cherian Abraham from the Experian Decision Analytics team honed in on this potential balance rift. “There is a lot of data at your disposal to be able to knock out fraud. However, at the same time, the bar is set very high as it relates to customer experience in terms of how they expect the brand to behave with them as a consumer and to provide consumer fulfillment.” Abraham delved into the idea of newer technologies and how the modern consumer mindset is creating a gap in authentication balance. “Brands have to be very cognizant of the fact that they have the fraud prevention toolset today, but at the same time customer expectations around what brands need to be doing is slipping and further widening this gap,” said Abraham.

For more information and access to the full webinar – please click here. Stay tuned for additional #fraudlifecycle posts.

Sep 29

#Fraudlifecycle; turning the tables on cyber criminals

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Fraud is not a point-in-time problem and data breaches should not be considered isolated attacks, which break through network defenses to abscond with credentials. In fact, data breaches are just the first stage of a rather complex lifecycle that begins with a vulnerability, advances through several stages of validation and surveillance, and culminates with a fraudulent transaction or monetary theft.

Cyber criminals are sophisticated and have a growing arsenal of weapons at their disposal to infect individual and corporate systems and capture account information: phishing, SMSishing and Vishing attacks, malware, and the like are all attempts to thwart security and access-protected information. Criminal tactics have even evolved to include physical-world approaches like infiltrating physical call centers via social engineering attacks aimed at unsuspecting representatives. This, and similar efforts, are all part of the constant quest to identify and exploit weaknesses in order to stage and commit financial crimes.

There are some companies that claim malware detection is the silver bullet to preventing fraud. This is simply not the case. The issue is that malware is only one method by which fraudsters may obtain credentials. The seemingly endless supply of pristine identity and account data in the criminal underground means that detecting a user’s system has been compromised is akin to closing the barn door after the hose has bolted. That is, malware can be an indicator that an account has been compromised, but it does not help identify the subsequent usage of the stolen credentials by the criminals, regardless of how the credentials were compromised.

Compromised data is first validated by the seller as one of their “value adds” to the criminal underground and typically again by the buyer. Validation usually involves logging into an account to ensure that the credentials work as expected, and allows for a much higher “validated” price point. Once the credentials and/or account have been validated, cyber criminals can turn their attention to surveillance.

Remember, by the time one realizes that credential information has been exposed, cyber criminal rings have captured the information they need – such as usernames, passwords, challenge responses and even token or session IDs – and have aded it to their underground data repositories. with traditional online authentication controls, it is nearly impossible to detect the initial fraudulent login that uses ill-gotten credentials. That is why it is critical to operate from the assumption that all account credentials have been compromised when designing an online authentication control scheme.

Sep 25

#FraudLifecycle Series: Managing the Integrated Omnichannel Experience

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Our #fraudlifecycle series of blog posts intends to inform our audience on trends, challenges and strategies of addressing fraud. Make sure to follow the #fraudlifecycle conversation here and on Twitter at @41stParameter

Our latest webinar explored the problems that businesses face in balancing fraud prevention with the frictionless customer experience in today’s omnichannel environment. Today, we’re taking a hard look at managing that all-important integrated omnichannel experience.

According to a 2013 Experian Marketing Services study, 36 percent of organizations interact with their customer in five or more channels. Matthew Ehrlich, director of product management with Experian Decision Analytics, predicts that number will hit 45 percent as we move into the fourth quarter of 2014, given the growth of mobile and tablet usage. “We have some strong forces working against today’s businesses. Retailers strive for a well-balanced and consistent customer friendly experience across all of the channels they offers sales through,” he explained before turning it over to Michelle Brisby, senior fraud manager with Sephora Direct to request her insight on what makes Sephora a leader in the customer omnichannel experience.

First, Brisby noted that the Sephora mobile app has more than 4 million downloads. “In addition, we offer store-to-web purchase. If it’s not on our shelf you can purchase it at the store and then ship it to your location. In the past we’ve also offered a concierge-type service where you can purchase online and then the order would be fulfilled and someone would show-up at your door to deliver the goods. And then lastly we also have the call center where you can receive a beauty consultation, then place an order by phone. Plus, we have different channels that are geared towards client support,” she explained.

Managing various channels is no easy task, particularly web versus mobile. There is a challenge related to separating traffic that comes in from various websites, whether it’s a reseller, referral or ad. Before the mobile explosion, Brisby discussed how fraud managers only had to concern themselves with two channels – phone and web. With mobile now thrown into the mix, they scrambled to find a way to separate additional channels as different devices requiring varying screenings, software and rules.

In new channel environments marketing realizes that to stay relevant they have to have a slick and convenient way for customers to interact. So they very quickly put forth great ideas of new products and services that can be deployed in the mobile space and it’s common to outsource that development. Where the breakdown occurs is risk. In many cases, what we find is that all of the strategies built up by businesses over the last decade to combat the online channel and all of the philosophies and strategies that have been put in place are not making their way into that third party development process.” David Britton, 41st Parameter, a part of Experian

Many companies don’t have in-house resources or experts in mobile. David Britton, an expert on mobile and its associated risks, said “In new channel environments marketing realizes that to stay relevant they have to have a slick and convenient way for customers to interact. So they very quickly put forth great ideas of new products and services that can be deployed in the mobile space and it’s common to outsource that development. Where the breakdown occurs is risk. In many cases, what we find is that all of the strategies built up by businesses over the last decade to combat the online channel and all of the philosophies and strategies that have been put in place are not making their way into that third party development process.”

Cherian Abraham, a senior business consultant with Experian Decision Analytics, says that balancing your approach to satisfying risk mitigation requirements is a challenge for the channel that’s at arm’s length for consumers: mobile. “With the ultimate customer experience on the front end, that’s a challenge regardless of what you know, whether you are a retail brand or a bank. Omnichannel discussions are almost always distilled down to mobile. When you have the limitations that are channel imposed, coupled with the element of fraud, fraudsters are going to leverage it as much as they can.”

Another factor to consider with managing a smooth customer experience across channels is authentication – there is a fine line between protecting customers with the appropriate level of security and turning customers away due to frustrations with authentication. We’ll review what the experts had to say about authentication in our next #fraudlifecycle post. At the end of the day, balance is key. But it’s also a challenge for most of the organization regardless of whether you’re a retailer or a financial institution.

Sep 05

#FraudLifecycle Series: Q&A with Michelle Brisby, Senior Fraud Manager of Sephora Direct

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We’re launching a series of #fraudlifecycle blog posts to help inform people on the trends, challenges and strategies associated with addressing fraud. Make sure to follow the #fraudlifecycle conversation on Twitter!

During a recent webinar on balancing customer experience and fraud prevention, we had the opportunity to hear from an expert panel including Michelle Brisby, the senior fraud manager of Sephora Direct. Here’s a Q&A with Michelle:

Fraud Lifecycle: Have recent compromises of personally identifiable information (i.e. name, full address, phone number, social security number, etc.) caused any shifts in your fraud prevention tactics and are you seeing any reluctance on the part of customers to provide this type of information?

michelle_brisbyblogpostMichelle Brisby: In the wrong hands, what is considered good personally identifiable information for our business can be the theft of an identity. This reality requires a shift in fraud prevention tactics. There are things that we do today that are different from what we did in the past. For example, there are new, less obvious, data that can be used behind the scenes to validate a client.

As for our customers, I don’t believe it has stopped them from shopping; it just has made them more aware. Customers are watching their credit cards and bank statements more closely and then disputing suspect transactions much faster. They understand that PII is essential to online commerce because it actually links back to the source: the bank. Banks have email addresses, phone numbers, and billing and shipping addresses on file. So not only are we validating the information as the merchant, but we’re also getting additional validation from the banks and other third party sources.

FLC: Sephora is known for a very elegant and integrated omni-channel experience for its customers. What makes Sephora a leader in this space and what are the challenges of managing the different channels?

MB: Thank you.As a fraud manager, you used to have two sources: your call center and the web. Now you have mobile thrown in to the equation. At a certain point, you’ve got everything – the stores, online, the call center, apps – all flowing through one source: your dedicated website. You need to find a way to separate these channels since different devices require a different set of slot screening and rules, as well as software. There is now a need to separate the channels so that from a fraud manager or fraud analyst perspective you can identify your traffic and determine next steps.

FLC: What are some of the challenges in establishing a mobile presence?

MB: For me the biggest challenge is timing. All of the new software and the preventative measures require involvement from IT in terms of development time. You just can’t add new software without knowing the impact to your website and the requirements for implementation. All of these require the fraud manager to work on coordinating dates, times, testing, and mapping. Then there is also the knowledge piece of it. There is so much information out there in the space that you need to make sure that its right for your brand and your business.

FLC: What is the right amount of authentication in fraud prevention?

MB: The right amount of fraud prevention depends on your business: are you shipping goods? A digital merchant? A subscription-type merchant?

Being that I am a shipped goods merchant, I actually have a little more time than a digital merchant, meaning I can hold that order and do the right type of verification to validate the customer before the package is shipped. If an error is made, I can recall that package—whereas in the digital and subscription space it works a little different.

You also need to know your data, because tuning your fraud tool directly correlates with knowing how you should tune in and what orders need to come into queue to reduce that false positive rate. I would generally look to use the reporting that’s offered through fraud tools and have someone dig through those reports on a daily basis to determine if my rules firing correctly. Am I seeing the right number of orders? Are my false positives too high? Those are the questions that you have to ask yourself when you’re looking to implement a good client-customer experience.

FLC: Thanks very much for your time Michelle.

MB: Thank you, it’s been a pleasure.

Listen to the complete webinar here and stay tuned for more #fraudlifecycle posts.

Aug 28

#FraudLifecycle Series: Balancing Fraud Prevention – Managing Cyber Risks without Sacrificing the Customer Experience

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We are launching a #fraudlifecycle series of blog posts to inform our audience on trends, challenges and strategies of addressing fraud. Make sure to follow the #fraudlifecycle conversation online!

Our latest webinar explored the problems that businesses face in balancing fraud prevention in today’s omnichannel environment. The panel of experts—including Michelle Brisby, senior fraud manager with Sephora Direct, Cherian Abraham, a senior business consultant with Experian Decision Analytics and Dave Britton, vice president of industry solutions with 41st Parameter, a part of Experian—provided insights on the challenges they face in managing cyber risk without sacrificing customer experience.

In this post, we will examine the key problems faced today with the unprecedented level of personal customer information available for exposure to fraudsters. Here’s a look at what our panelists had to say on the subject:


Click here to view the complete webinar replay.

Q1: Do you need to consider every transaction as potentially compromised?

The short answer is yes. David Britton pointed out, “It’s one thing to understand that usernames and passwords may be compromised, but equally important to understand that other data—email addresses, phone numbers and all of the other elements that make-up personally identifiable information—can be used by the fraudsters to build-up very good profiles in terms of impersonating legitimate users.”

Q2: Has this caused any shift in fraud prevention tactics?

Cherian Abraham is an advocate for a layered approach. “Use [of] a layered approach is a smarter approach in terms of decoupling from just using usernames and passwords, but also looking at a variety of other inspirations before…authorizing the customer to do certain things,” he explains.

Michelle Brisby pointed to “other data points that you can use behind the scenes.  So I do strongly feel that with these breaches it has changed the way we look at things.  However, there are more data points available for us to actually validate a client.”

Q3: Is there reluctance on the part of the customer to provide personal information?

Michelle Brisby noted, “I don’t believe it’s stopped consumers from shopping.  I just think it’s made them more aware.  They’re now watching their credit cards and their bank statements more closely and then disputing those transactions much faster.”

Q4: Is it still standard practice to collect this personal information?

“It is essential to continue to collect that information and the reason being that information actually links back to the source: the bank,” Brisby explained. “Banks have phone numbers, billing, shipping addresses [on file], so not only are you validating it, you’re also getting an additional validation from the banks and other third party sources.  So it’s still important to collect the data, but you also need to take it one step further.”

Click here to listen to the complete webinar. Stay tuned for more #fraudlifecycle posts.

Aug 06

Inside the mind of today’s cyber criminal

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Online crooks are getting more sophisticated by the second. Nowadays, fraudsters have the ability to conduct “clean fraud,” obtaining legitimate identities of users from the black market or data breaches to compromise a victim’s card account. Malware, too, is becoming more sophisticated both in the mobile and non-mobile space. But how can organizations fight such high-level tactics in such a broad, complex space? John Sarreal, Senior Director of Product Management at 41st Parameter, an online fraud prevention player, sat down with PYMNTS after the recent release of the white paper “Surveillance, Staging, and the Fraud Lifecycle” to reveal the inner workings of a cyber criminal’s mind, what should be done before and after data is snatched, and which aspects of account takeover are the most overlooked and dangerous.

Interview excerpts

Take us through the mind of a cyber-criminal. What are the most sophisticated tactics used today to capture account information from corporate systems?

JS: The amount of clean fraud that we see with our customers is unprecedented. By focusing on obtaining legitimate credentials and identities, fraudsters are more easily able to bypass traditional controls. This means that fraud tools need to adapt and gather additional attributes to augment their fraud screening. Although the techniques they’re using now to obtain these credentials are increasingly sophisticated, the MOs are still rooted in basic phishing and social engineering attacks.

Fraudsters will use identity information obtained from the black market or data breaches to conduct very convincing phishing attacks to reveal everything that is needed to compromise a victim’s card account. There’s also increasing sophistication in the use of malware to steal sensitive credentials in both the mobile and non-mobile arena. In Android, for example, Google recently passed a vulnerability that allows sophisticated malware to impersonate digital certificate signing authorities. This vulnerability allowed the malware to install itself on a mobile device without any user notification or intervention – obviously, a very dangerous attack.

Link to the podcast and transcript here.

Aug 01

Surveillance, staging and the fraud lifecycle

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Imagine the following scenario: an attacker acquires consumers’ login credentials through a data breach. They use these credentials to test account access and observe account activity to understand the ebbs and flows of normal cash movement – peering into private financial records – verifying the optimal time to strike for the most financial gain.

Surveillance and fraud staging are the seemingly benign and often-transparent account activities that fraudsters undertake after an account has been compromised but before that compromise has been detected or money is moved. Activities include viewing balances, changing settings to more effectively cover tracks, and setting up account linkages to stage eventual fraudulent transfers.

The unfortunate thing is that the actual theft is often the final event in a series of several fraudulent surveillance and staging activities that were not detected in time. It is the activity that occurs before theft that can severely undermine consumer trust and can devastate a brand’s reputation.

Read more about surveillance, staging and the fraud lifecycle in this complimentary whitepaper.

Jul 24

Another Breach, Another Instance of Weak Passwords Causing in Account Takeover

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Your password is weak, whether you use 40 random characters or your dog’s name. With so many large data breaches leading to hundreds of millions of compromised credentials and payment cards in the past two years, it’s no surprise that e-commerce account takeover attempts have grown dramatically in recent months – to a degree we have never seen before. Previously, account takeover was primarily a banking issue, not something merchants had to deal with.

Account takeover is an alarming trend that spans global airline loyalty programs, e-commerce transactions, social networking logins and virtually any web site leveraging username and password authentication. News of the latest cybersecurity concern should serve as yet another reminder that we live in a heightened state of risk where establishing online trust based solely on username and password or identity data is not sufficient. There are a number of factors that are contributing to the evolving fraud landscape namely that the Internet was not designed for security.  This places pressure on organizations to continually adopt new approaches to managing fraud like this growing account takeover threat. In this case, multiple layered controls including device intelligence are essential.

As merchants extend more services online and allow customers to store payment information or get more convenient checkout via logged in vs. guest access, we’ll continue to see fraud migrating deeper into the e-commerce ecosystem. The account takeover problem will continue as consumers share usernames and passwords across dozens of online profiles and e-commerce logins, opening the door for attackers to access multiple accounts through a single compromised credential. Most of the account portals used by e-commerce merchants and loyalty programs were not built with the same level of security that their online transaction and fraud management systems have in place. So it’s a bit of a new risk, but fraudsters are aggressively exploiting the security gaps around things like simple username/password authentication.

What can consumers and organizations do to protect themselves?

Our recommendation for consumers is that they have unique username and password combinations for every online profile. This protects against attackers compromising one site and leveraging the same credentials to access all of the victim’s accounts and online profiles across the web. For businesses, we recommend implementing technology solutions that increase visibility to and recognition of devices for every online interaction so the organization can differentiate attackers from legitimate consumers. Some businesses believe that their products, services and loyalty offerings do not require the same level of protection as online bank accounts, so they leave them exposed to cyber criminals via simple authentication controls. As we’ve seen fraudsters will migrate to the path of least resistance and exploit the fact that most consumers re-use credentials out of convenience.

In the digital age where consumers are increasingly represented by their devices the ability to know when there are authentication discrepancies between the data presented by the user and the device presenting those credentials is absolutely important to effectively controlling the threat. The authentication process will shift from a single view to a layered, risk-based authentication approach that will include comprehensive and real-time updates of consumer information.

Conversations around the fact that the password is dead or dying have been circulating in the industry recently. What we don’t want is consumers getting tired of constantly changing passwords and giving up trying to protect themselves online. That is the worst case scenario that is becoming more of a reality as the days pass. Educated and aware consumers are still the best way to identify fraudulent attacks, and to keep identity data safe from hackers and devices free of malware.

Increased adoption of biometrics, device intelligence and the sharing of authenticated and credentialed identities across industries will become commonplace to help combat account takeovers as they increase. Until then we need to find a password replacement. 

Learn more about 41st Parameter fraud detection and prevention solutions here.

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