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The answer to fraud? Education, education, education


‘Knowledge is power’, ‘it’s easy when you know how’, phrases we hear all too often. Phrases I hear all too often are things like, ‘data breach’, ‘scam’, ‘fraud’, ‘is that fourth glass really necessary?’ Just the sort of negativity none of us need in our lives really.

But fraud is unfortunately the buzzword, again, as a new report from the Action Fraud Team (I mean if anyone is going to know a thing or two about fraud it’s these guys) has revealed £34.5 million has been stolen in Covid related cybercrime since March 2020.

Unfortunately, this doesn’t surprise me, or anybody else in the slightest. Covid has been a cracking opportunity for various nefarious doers, not just those in the cyber world. But at least cybercrime is Covid-safe I suppose.

Criminals, on the whole, are not nice people and do not pause their activities for a pandemic. These sorts of people are opportunists and have preyed upon these immense changes to our society like circling sharks.

Events such as Covid-19 only cause these people to ramp up their activities, changing up their tactics and targeting individuals and businesses at a time when they are at their most vulnerable and least protected. This of course makes it far easier to manipulate and steal valuable data.

But as with all crime, it is up to the victims to alter their behaviour, not the criminal.

Brett Beranek, vice-president & general manager, security & biometrics at Nuance Communications commented, “This is why biometrics such as voice and behavioural recognition, fingerprints, and eye scans are critical to a secure online presence.

“Thanks to years of interacting with smart devices, customers often already feel comfortable with fingerprint ID and facial recognition. Unfortunately, most of these device-side biometric authentication methods don’t have any real impact on stopping fraudsters.

“This is because, firstly, it is challenging to determine who has created the biometric print, and secondly, the prints are limited to a specific device, making them difficult to leverage across multiple channels and impossible to port from one device to the next. It is therefore server-side biometrics, such as voice biometrics, that will have result in both significant fraud prevention and frictionless, secure, convenient customer experiences.”

“When it comes to fraud, prevention is always better than a cure. In today’s landscape consumers are more aware than ever of the importance to protect their own information, and they will hold accountable the organisations that don’t do enough to protect the information they share with them. Without question, we need to be one step ahead and education around the most effective security solutions – like biometrics – is key.”

Now, I do not disagree with the fact server-side biometrics are important, and I agree people are a lot more aware of the importance of protecting themselves than in years gone by, but what I do not agree with, is this assumption that ‘most’ customers already feel comfortable with smart devices.

The last line Beranek said, to me, was by far the most important. ‘We need to be one step ahead and education around the most effective security solutions – like biometrics – is key.’ Forget about the technology for a moment, we (the younger generation) read about, and are aware of a tonne of new technologies coming to market to help with security, but we aren’t the ones being primarily targeted, as cybercriminals know this. Also, the younger generation are pretty skint right now.

But think of your grandparents or even your parents, how tech savvy are they, really? When I see my mother scrolling with her index finger, glasses at the end of her nose, phone at arm’s length, to a cybercriminal, she’s the perfect target. Now, she understands scam emails and I’ve always said if she isn’t sure to show me, but scam emails are just the tip of the iceberg now, as cybercriminals up the ante.

Even scam emails are getting harder to spot, even I struggle sometimes. But as we get better at clocking scammers, they get better at countering us. This never-ending cycle will not stop, as I’m sure scammers have families to feed as well, and while there is money to be made, rest assured, they’ll be making it.

The only way for us to stay ahead of the curve, is to educate our most vulnerable, so I urge you yo have ‘the talk’ with anyone you know that could fall victim, particularly your older relatives. Very different to the ‘talk’ our parents might have given us when we were younger, but, it’s for their own protection.

This editorial originally appeared in the Data Centre Review Newsletter March 26, 2021. To ensure you receive these editorials direct to your inbox, you can subscribe to our weekly newsletter here.

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