Home Security Australia, world hit by sharp rise in mobile fraud attacks
Australia, world hit by sharp rise in mobile fraud attacks Image courtesy of Stuart Miles at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Fraud attacks on mobile transactions in Australia have increased by 26% this year compared to 2017, with a new cyber crime report also revealing that attacks have risen sharply around the world.

According to the report from security firm ThreatMetrix — a LexisNexis Risk Solutions Company — mobile fraud has reached 150 million global attacks in the first half of 2018, with attack rates rising 26% year-over-year in Australia alone.

The report also reveals that Asia Pacific countries, including Australia, Japan and Singapore, featured in the top five target destinations among countries perpetrating the highest number of attacks globally – the UK, the US, China and Canada.

Other key findings of the ThreatMetrrix report for the Australia-New Zealand region, and globally, include:

  • Growth in attack rate for financial services transactions coming from ANZ in Q2 2018 was higher than any other region at 138%, compared to last quarter.
  • Bots are booming: 1H 2018 registered a total of 2.6 billion bot attacks, with a 60% step up from Q1 to Q2 2018.
  • Bot attack rate from ANZ grew 33% in comparison to last quarter, indicating a ramping up of cyber crime activity in the region, coinciding with the advent of the New Payments Platform.
  • Globally, 58% of digital transactions now originate from mobile devices.
  • Globally, mobile attacks are increasing, with one-third of all fraud now targeting this channel.
  • Eighty-five of transactions on social networks and dating sites now come from mobile devices, where identity spoofing is rife.

And in the last three years the proportion of mobile transactions versus desktop has globally almost tripled, with a third of all fraud attacks now targeting mobile transactions.

ThreatMetrix says the fraud attacks on mobile devices have risen as consumer behaviour increasingly embraces mobile for virtually all online goods and services.

“This means that although digital companies do need to prepare for increasing attacks, mobile remains the more secure channel compared to desktop,” the report says.

The security firm says the rise of mobile is undisputedly the key change agent in digital commerce currently, and in the last three years the proportion of mobile transactions versus desktop has almost tripled – with mobile transactions, which include account creations, logins and payments, reaching 58% of all traffic by the middle of 2018.

The report also reveals that mobile fraud rates have tended to lag behind the channel’s overall growth. However, in the first half of 2018 mobile attack rates rose 24%, when compared to the first half of 2017.

According to ThreatMetrix, mobile offers organisations unique opportunities for accurately assessing user identity, thanks to highly personalised device attributes, geo-location and behavioural analysis.

“It offers strong customer authentication options that require no user intervention, including cryptographically binding devices for persistent authentication (“Strong ID”). The number of Strong IDs for mobile devices on the ThreatMetrix network has more than doubled in the first half of 2018, improving both customer recognition rates and the efficacy of identifying trusted transactions,” ThreatMetrix notes.

“Mobile is quickly becoming the predominant way people access online goods and services, and as a result organisations need to anticipate that the barrage of mobile attacks will only increase,” said Alisdair Faulkner, chief identity officer at LexisNexis Risk Solutions.

“The good news is that as mobile usage continues to increase, so too does overall customer recognition rates, as mobile apps offer a wealth of techniques to authenticate returning customers with a very high degree of accuracy. The key point of vulnerability, however, is at the app registration and account creation stage. To verify users at this crucial point, organisations need to tap into global intelligence that assesses true digital identity, compiled from the multiple channels that their customers transact on.”

The ThreatMetrix Cyber Crime Report: Q2 2018 is based on actual cyber crime attacks from April-June 2018 that were detected by the ThreatMetrix Digital Identity Network during real-time analysis and interdiction of fraudulent online payments, logins and new account applications. Presumably, this covers only ThreatMetrix customers.


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Peter Dinham

Peter Dinham is a co-founder of iTWire and a 35-year veteran journalist and corporate communications consultant. He has worked as a journalist in all forms of media – newspapers/magazines, radio, television, press agency and now, online – including with the Canberra Times, The Examiner (Tasmania), the ABC and AAP-Reuters. As a freelance journalist he also had articles published in Australian and overseas magazines. He worked in the corporate communications/public relations sector, in-house with an airline, and as a senior executive in Australia of the world’s largest communications consultancy, Burson-Marsteller. He also ran his own communications consultancy and was a co-founder in Australia of the global photographic agency, the Image Bank (now Getty Images).


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