First half of 2020 findings highlight overall decline in human-initiated attacks, growth in bot attacks targeting financial services organizations
LexisNexis Risk Solutions released its biannual Cybercrime Report, which tracks global cybercrime activity from January through June 2020. The report dives deep into how the COVID-19 pandemic has impacted the global digital economy, regional economies, industries, businesses and consumer behavior. The period has seen strong transaction volume growth compared to 2019 but an overall decline in global attack volume. This is likely linked to growth in genuine customer activity due to changing consumer habits.
The LexisNexis Risk Solutions Cybercrime Report analyzes data from more than 22.5 billion transactions processed by the LexisNexis Digital Identity Network, a 37 percent growth year over year. Mobile device transactions also continue to rise, with 66 percent of all transactions coming from mobile devices in the first half of 2020, up from 20 percent in early 2015. The Digital Identity Network also noted an uptick in transactions from new devices and new digital identities. We can attribute this to many new-to-digital consumers moving online to procure goods and services that were no longer available in person or harder to access via a physical store during the pandemic.
The United States (U.S.) and Canada encountered lower overall attack rates in comparison to other global regions from January through June 2020. This is true across both desktop and mobile browser channels. The U.S. does contribute the highest volume of human-initiated and automated bot attacks globally. There are also pockets of attack growth across specific industries and use cases. These include upticks in attack rates targeting all use cases in the media industry, as well as financial services new account creations.
There is a clear pattern of networked fraud recorded across the region, highlighted by large, interconnected e-commerce fraud networks in the U.S. This network saw at least $27.9 million USD exposed to fraud across five online retailers and one online marketplace. This network alone consisted of 850 devices, 134,000 email addresses and 61,000 telephone numbers.
Additional Key Findings from the LexisNexis Risk Solutions Cybercrime Report:
• Decline in attack rate – The overall human-initiated attack rate across the Digital Identity Network fell through the first half of 2020, showing a 33 percent decline year over year. The breakdown by sector shows a 23 percent decline in financial services and a 55 percent decline in e-commerce attack rates.
Latin America experienced the highest attack rates of all regions globally and realized consistent growth in attack rates from March to June 2020. The attack patterns in U.S., Canada and EMEA had less volatility and fewer spikes in attack rates during the six-month period observed.
• Attack Vector Global View – Media is the only industry that recorded an overall year over year growth in human-initiated cyberattacks. The Digital Identity Network recorded the 3% increase solely across mobile browser transactions
Globally, automated bots remain a key attack vector in the Digital Identity Network. Financial services organizations experienced a surge in automated bot attacks and continue to experience more bot attacks than any other industry.
• Across the Customer Journey – New account creations see attacks at a higher rate than any other transaction type in the digital customer journey. However, the largest volume of attacks targeted online payment transactions. Login transactions have seen the biggest drop in attack rate in comparison to other use cases.
Analysis across new customer touchpoints in the online journey is included in this report for the first time, providing additional context on key points of risk such as money transfers and password resets.
• During COVID-19 – All industries have felt the impact of COVID-19. There are clear peaks and troughs in transaction volumes coinciding with global lockdown periods. Financial services organizations realized a growth in new-to-digital banking users, a changing geographical footprint from previously well-traveled consumers and a reduction in the number of devices used per customer. There have also been several attacks targeting banks offering COVID-19-related loans.
E-commerce merchants have seen an increase in digital payments and several other key attack typologies that coincide with the lockdown period. These included account takeover attacks using identity spoofing and more first-party chargeback fraud.
“This is the first LexisNexis Risk Solutions Cybercrime Report to include data on the new reality of conducting business during a pandemic,” said Rebekah Moody, director of fraud and identity at LexisNexis Risk Solutions. “The move to digital, for both businesses and consumers, has been significant. Yet with this change comes opportunity for exploitation. Fraudsters look for easy targets: whether government support packages, new lines of credit or media companies with fewer barriers to entry. We need to ensure that all consumers, especially those who might be new to digital, are protected. Businesses must arm themselves with a layered defense that can detect the full spectrum of possible attacks and is future-proofed against evolving threats.”
“In our recent True Cost of Fraud report, which surveyed retail and e-commerce merchants, respondents reported an overall increase in fraud attempts and confirmed fraud. This is contrary to what the Digital Identity Network identified, with a 61% decline in the attack rate for U.S. e-commerce merchants,” added Kimberly Sutherland, vice president of fraud and identity strategy at LexisNexis Risk Solutions. “This suggests that customers that are part of the Digital Identity Network may benefit from the protection this layered defense affords, with the additional benefit of access to global shared intelligence relating to fraud detection helping to keep fraud rates low.”
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