Securing the Digital World

Fraud Investigation: A Big Job for Small Teams

May 06, 2016 | by Heidi Bleau |

RSA recently conducted a survey among security and fraud investigation professionals within the e-commerce industry to gauge the cyber threats and business challenges that plague them most. While many interesting insights emerged, there was one that stood out: finding the source of fraud takes too long.

Among the observations and conclusions:

  • Detecting fraud/suspicious activity isn't easy.
    38% of respondents consider it a "major" challenge to detect suspicious activity in their web and mobile applications.
  • Finding the source of fraud takes too long.
    70% of respondents report it takes days - or longer - to identify the source of fraudulent activity. This is significant because as we all know, retailers included, a delay in discovery of this magnitude only serves to lengthen the time hackers have to exploit websites, steal customer credentials, and generally make your website and the e-commerce that takes place there unreliable and untrusted.
  • Loss of customer data, money, and service are the most worrisome security threats.
    Not surprising, respondents cited loss of customer data as the most detrimental security threat (75%), followed by fraudulent money activity (52%) and DDoS attacks (44%).
  • For most, actual losses due to cybercrime are not trivial.
    Nearly two out of three respondents characterize their e-commerce cybercrime/fraud losses last year as "significant." Does this mean cyber thieves are reaping greater reward (and profit) while risking minimal detection and discovery?
  • The most distressing impacts of a cyber attack: data loss, downtime.
    Customer data theft is the most distressing potential consequence of cyber attack (73%), followed by damage resulting from downtime or outages (68%).
  • Security technology: not one solution, but many.
    Asked to list technologies employed to protect their customer-facing applications, respondents reported using numerous strategies and solutions, mainly web application firewalls, intrusion detection/prevention systems, web vulnerability scanners, and encryption/tokenization.
  • Web behavior analytics is new territory for fraud investigation.
    In fact, only 13% of respondents report being familiar with how web behavior analytics can be used to drastically improve fraud investigation.
  • Fraud investigation: a big job often done by a small team.
    61% of those surveyed report that their organization has assigned just 1-5 people to online fraud investigation. How does that average compare with your own organization?
  • Will more security slow down our site?
    66% of responders express concern that more security will affect site performance. Other concerns include "alert fatigue" (46%) and transaction abandonment (38%). RSA recommends taking a risk-based approach to online cart abandonment which in turn reduces customer's perceived discomfort with site authentication requirements and transaction latency.
  • Goals: reduce cost, improve customer experience, and stop fraud.
    Predictably, top business goals responders cite for the next year include reducing operational costs (65%) and improving customer experience (58%), but increasing the efficiency of fraud teams also ranked high (38%).

Key Takeaways

Security would be a whole lot more effective - and accepted - if only commercially available products could understand the business just a little better. This is more true than ever when it comes to websites, the primary interface for nearly every business. And this is where web behavior analytics come in.

Web behavior analytics measure expected behaviors and variables compared to the norm for the site historically and take into account known patterns of fraudulent behavior to glean anomalous activity. It's like trying to find a needle in a digital haystack.

Loss prevention specialists can also use web behavioral analytics to reduce the amount of time spent investigating online fraud and glean information that can be used to further fine tune fraud identification, mitigation, and site vulnerabilities. Finally, the use of web behavioral analytics can serve as an effective means to reduce fraud chargebacks by proactively stopping bad transactions before they happen.

You can access the full survey.

Request a demo to see how web behavior analytics can be used to improve fraud identification and investigation.