Cyber Attacks on the Rise

Cyber attacks on businesses are trending up according to the latest ThreatMetrix report.

The "ThreatMetric CyberCrimer Report: Q1 2015" reveals that crimeware tools have gained traction and are providing fraudsters with tools to automate cybercrime attacks by using customer data made available from breaches. Because of this, ThreatMetrix says that it has seen more traffic that is cloaked.

ThreatMetrix analyzed more 6 than billion transactions in its Q1 report, with nearly one-third originating from mobile devices. According to the report's ecommerce data, new account creation rates were lower than other transaction types, but they had a two times higher instance of fraudulent transactions, which was driven by the availability of stolen identities. In fact, 1 percent of transactions in Q1 2015 were account creation, with 6.7 percent high risk. Conversely, 80 percent of transactions were account logins with 2 percent high risk, and 19 percent of transactions were payments with 2.6 percent high risk.

"In the wake of recent data breaches, customers' digital debris is floating in the cyber world for fraudsters to compromise, making accurate insight into digital identities of the utmost importance for businesses, especially in the ecommerce industry," said Vanita Pandey, senior director, strategy and product marketing at ThreatMetrix. "ThreatMetrix data shows an upswing in account takeover and identity spoofing attacks following recent massive data breaches. While guest checkouts previously represented the highest risk, due to the breadth of digital debris at cybercriminals' fingertips, fraudsters are much more likely to use a stolen username and password combination than to use compromised credit card information, which has a shorter life span. As the volume of ecommerce transactions increase, it gives cybercriminals more places to poke and exploit. Retailers need to leverage a digital identity network to get a comprehensive view of customers to accurately differentiate between trusted and fraudulent transactions."

In addition to ecommerce transactions, ThreatMetric examined financial services transactions and authentication attempts. The data shows that the impact of breaches and consumer credentials is more evident in the financial services industry. For instance, 1 percent of transactions in the financial services industry were account creation with 2 percent high risk. Moreover, 76 percent of transactions were account logins with 2.6 percent high risk, while 23 percent of transactions were payments with 3.2 percent high risk.

"On the backs of major data breaches, we're seeing a trend in cybercriminals using more sophisticated, automated crimeware tools that are deliberately targeting first generation device identification and authentication solutions used by most financial institutions," said Pandey. "Fraudsters are shifting from exploiting hardware and software to exploiting people - taking bits and pieces of their digital identities that have been compromised through breaches, and attempting to make transactions disguised as those individuals. As cybercriminals move to exploit financial institutions, those businesses need a more sophisticated view of their users. They need to look at their customers' behaviors, devices and identities as a whole - the ultimate behavioral biometric."

Additional data from the report found the media industry continues to see the highest percentage of high-risk transactions. For instance, 22 percent of Q1 transactions in the media industry were account creation, with 3.8 percent high risk.  Additionally, 26 percent of transactions were account logins with 6.2 percent high risk, and 52 percent of transactions were payments with 4 percent being high risk.

"From a fraudster's perspective, social media is the gas station of the connected world," said Pandey. "It provides a quick and easy way to assess the validity of a stolen credit card or credentials. The media industry has the highest incidence rate of high-risk transactions due to the low authentication threshold - often only consisting of a username and password combination. These identities are easily compromised, especially following a significant number of data breaches, as many people use the same login credentials across websites."

Lastly, the report sheds light on mobile, revealing that the growth of mobile has brought more attacks, with spoofing being the most prevalent. That said, the attack volumes are still lower than that of desktops.

"While desktop fraud still dominates, as mobile usage continues to grow, especially in emerging markets, the channel will eventually see new, sophisticated criminals targeting mobile transactions," said Pandey. "With businesses focused on lowering consumer friction on mobile, fraudsters are increasingly targeting mobile platforms and devices to spoof identities. Businesses need to be prepared for an uptick in spoofing attacks as mobile continues to grow."