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Cybercrime Profits Estimated at $1.5 trillion

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New criminal platforms and a booming cybercrime economy have resulted in $1.5 trillion in illicit profits being acquired, laundered, spent and reinvested by attackers.

This was one of the findings of a study commissioned by Bromium, a virtualisation-based endpoint security company.

Called ‘Into the Web of Profit’, the study was conducted by Dr Mike McGuire, senior lecturer in criminology at Surrey University, and draws from first-hand interviews with convicted cybercriminals, data from international law enforcement agencies, financial institutions, and covert observations conducted across the dark Web.

The Web of profit

According to Bromium, the study is one of the first studies to examine the dynamics of cybercrime by scrutinising revenue flow and profit distribution, instead of the mechanisms of cybercrime alone.

It looks at the cybercrime-based economy and the professionalisation of cybercrime. “This economy has become a self-sustaining system, an interconnected Web of profit that blurs the lines between the legitimate and illegitimate.”

Conservative estimates

The research shows cybercriminal revenues worldwide of at least $1.5 trillion, the same as the GDP of Russia, a number Bromium calls a ‘conservative estimate’. “If cybercrime was a country, it would have the 13th highest GDP in the world.”

This figure includes $860 billion made from illicit or illegal online markets, $500 billion from theft of trade secrets and intellectual property, $160 billion in data trading, $1.6 billion for Crimeware-as-a-Service, and $1 billion from ransomware.

According to the report, the dark economy is made up of a variety of operations, from large ‘multinational’ operations that rake in profits of over $1 billion, to SME-style entities where profits of between $300 00 and $50 000 are expected.

Platform criminality

In addition, the research revealed an emergence of ‘platform criminality’, mirroring the platform capitalism model employed by businesses such as Uber and Amazon, where data itself is the commodity. New criminality models are enabled by these platforms, which, in turn, fund broader scourges such as human trafficking, drugs and terrorism.

Gregory Webb, CEO of Bromium, says the report delivered ‘shocking insight’ into how profitable and widespread cybercrime really is.

“The platform criminality model is productising malware and making cybercrime as easy as shopping online. Not only is it easy to access cybercriminal tools, services and expertise, it means enterprises and governments alike are going to see more sophisticated, costly and disruptive attacks.”

A range of agents

The report also suggests that cybercrime shouldn’t be strictly compared to business, as by nature it is more like an economy, with a ‘hyper-connected range of economic agents, economic relationships and other factors’ that work together to generate, support and maintain criminal revenues at an ‘unprecedented scale’, says McGuire.

Because legitimate businesses and nation states are now profiting from cybercrime, the study believes there is now an interdependence between the legitimate and illegitimate economies. Organisations are acquiring data and competitive advantage from the dark economy, and using it as a tool for strategy, global advancement and social control, says Bromium.

“There is a range of ways in which many leading and respectable online platforms are now implicated in enabling or supporting crime (albeit unwittingly, in most cases),” says McGuire.

No hope of control

Ilia Kolochenko, CEO of web security company High-Tech Bridge, says the report is 100% right in saying that cybercrime has become a highly profitable and sustainable business that no government can hope to control.

However, he suggests that it may have missed some figures, because the most serious cybercrimes, such as nation-state attacks or offensive operations from large conglomerates against competitors, are rarely detected, yet alone exposed.

“Publicly accessible platforms in the dark Web have a lot of scam and fake ads intertwined with law enforcement honeypots, too,” adds Kolochenko.

And he says the fight against cybercrime isn’t getting easier. “Professional Black Hats usually have inconspicuous private platforms, lawfully hosted in AWS or Azure, with full encryption of all data. You cannot get access unless you are a long-standing and verified partner.

“Nothing is less certain than global cybercrime size and volume,” concludes Kolochenko.

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F5 Reports Rising Multi-Cloud Adoption

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More and more businesses globally are moving to a multi-cloud situation to deploy or access services.

 

This is according to F5 Networks’ recent report, ‘The State of Application Delivery 2018’ (SOAD), in which more than 50 percent of the respondents, representing IT professionals from all over the globe, said they use between two and six cloud environments.

 

The F5 report, now in its fourth year, surveys more than 3,400 industry peers, evaluating the state of application services and looking into motivations underlying the deployment of application services.

 

It covered more than 300 organisations across a broad spectrum of vertical markets such as banking and finance, telecommunications, public sector and consumer products.

 

The five key findings revolved around the issues of digital transformation, inspiring new architectures and IT optimisation initiatives; multi-cloud deployment, which enables the best cloud for the app; application services as the gateways to the future; the fact that IT optimisation drives the use of automisation; and the relationship between security confidence and the rise of multi-cloud.

 

The survey notes that, according to 49 percent of respondents, digital transformation is encouraging the delivery of applications from the cloud. Simon McCullough, major channel account manager at F5, noted that attacks on applications are becoming more complex, leading to organisations transforming the traditional perimeter to include the new everyday reality of users accessing applications from anywhere, at any time, and from any device.

 

He added, “A key finding of this year’s SOAD report was the continuous increase in multi-cloud deployments, which enable organisations to select the cloud platform that best meets the requirements of a specific application. This scenario, however, which allows a company to transform their application portfolio to compete in today’s digital economy, also increases the challenges that many companies face in managing their operations across multiple clouds and, consequently, their security.”

 

The report saw that nearly nine out of 10 respondents are now using multiple clouds as a result of their ‘best-of-breed’ strategy for each application deployment. Forty nine percent of overall survey respondents are moving to deliver apps from the public cloud. Over half (59 percent) reported that they are utilising two to six clouds.

 

The report notes: “Applications streamline processes, provide new services and offerings, and enhance customer experiences… IT decisions get made based on app requirements. At the same time, the speed and scale required from the digital economy is moving IT off premises and into the cloud. This means that cloud decisions are made on a case by case, per-application basis according to 56 percent of the respondents. As customers have on average over 200 applications, with varying requirements, it’s no surprise that most respondents are operating in multi-cloud environments.”

 

“The power of apps in the business world is unmistakable,” says Anton Jacobsz, managing director at Networks Unlimited, a value-added distributor of F5 in Africa. “The right technology should support apps to optimise a business and not hamper productivity.  Our mission is to empower a business’ limitless potential, and we recommend F5’s app security solutions to move your business forward, making your people more productive and creating a better experience for your customers.”

 

F5 security solutions have been developed to offer customers complete visibility and control at scale. “Applications ‒ along with their users and data ‒ are exposed to enormous risk as they travel from device to data centre server and back again. Unpredictable and stealthy cyber threats continue to disrupt user availability and exploit financial information and intellectual property. F5 secures access to applications from anywhere while protecting them wherever they reside. F5 helps businesses protect sensitive data and intellectual property while minimising application downtime and maximising end-user productivity,” concluded McCullough.

 

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Technology is Future of FICA, Digitised Customer Onboarding

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Simon Slater, chief operating officer at e4

Digitisation is transforming business and impacting consumers through every stage of their daily lives.

 

While rapidly becoming a way of life, onboarding consumers digitally is still in its infancy, but is becoming a major focus for every financial institution across the country.

 

According to Simon Slater, chief operating officer at e4, a digital solutions company, the amendment of FICA, which now incorporates a risk-based approach to customer due-diligence, enables Accountable Institutions (AIs) to adopt their own, more flexible approach.

 

He said this move will quickly solve onboarding challenges as AIs, such as the banks, embrace the vital role technology can play in the process.

 

Slater said that technology’s role in addressing FICA requirements is rapidly growing because AIs now have more flexibility to manage compliance and risk independently.

 

The FICA amendment, he said, has seen a swift uptake in the use of technology solutions: “In part prompted by the rise of the fintech companies and the potential challenges posed by several new digital challenger banks, the major incumbent banks have all risen to the challenge of addressing both onboarding and compliance utilising technology solutions.”

 

The strength of these technology solutions, according to Slater, often lies in the use of data sources combined with intelligent rules engines, to verify customer information behind a great front-end channel. It is here that artificial intelligence will also start to feature more in onboarding solutions.

 

There are several components to the ultimate onboarding technology solution according to Slater.

 

Centred on the customer, the solution requires a simple web front-end or mobile app, that is easy to use and intuitive.

 

Proof of identity is next, and the solution will need a direct link to Home Affairs to verify a person’s identity. Depending on the channel, this can include the use of fingerprint biometrics, which provides a very strong real-time check, coupled with or alternatively using up to three-way facial matching of a customer’s image (enabling a ‘virtual’ face-to-face process).

 

A virtual video link can also be offered, coupled with liveness detection to cater for all risk levels of customer verification. Finally, technology can now also solve the challenges around income, affordability and employment verification.

 

To solve proof of residence, Slater said these types of technology solutions are reinventing the process digitally at new levels: “We have managed to create a marketplace for address providers to compete on a price and quality basis, to enable AIs to verify digital evidence for proof of residence, against multiple sources of addresses. This is the level of onboarding that suddenly becomes possible in a digital environment.”

 

Real-time approval via instant processing of new customer applications is the ultimate goal of digitised onboarding. Slater says that from a FICA perspective, the next goal is to assist AIs to address the ongoing verification of existing customers.

 

Often referred to as Know Your Customer (KYC), the technology solutions developed to onboard new customers can also be utilised to refresh a customer’s data based on their risk profile.  This is the road ahead.”

 

Slater is very upbeat about the future of new technology within AIs.  Sustainable solutions to help solve the ability of AIs to onboard a customer and meet their FICA requirements are finally available.

 

 

 

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CWG to Launch Entersekt Product Line into Nigerian Market

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CWG Plc, a pan-African provider of information and communications technology, has announced a strategic partnership with Entersekt, a globally recognized innovator in mobile-first fintech solutions.

In line with its commitment to continuously offer cutting-edge technology solutions, CWG will provide Entersekt’s full suite of mobile-centred security and payments enablement products to banks and other enterprises in Nigeria and beyond, either as a hosted solution or on-premises implementation.

Adewale Adeyipo, ED–VP Sales and Marketing at CWG said, “This is a major step towards ensuring that our customers can operate in conformity to relevant global practices and regulations by rolling out market-leading online and mobile experiences at competitive prices, without exposing their users to fraud.”

CWG’s rollout of Entersekt technology begins with Transakt, a sophisticated app-based mobile identity and authentication product.

Available as a software development kit or stand-alone mobile app, Transakt is used by tens of millions of smart phone users around the world to safely log into their online and mobile banking, verify payments and other sensitive transactions, and communicate privately with their service providers.

Users approve or reject in-app authentication prompts with one tap. [Watch: 50-second explainer video.]

About 90 percent of Nigeria’s 113 million strong mobile subscriber base use feature phones, which do not support apps, so user-initiated USSD banking and payments are extremely popular in the country.

To help banks secure this channel, CWG will offer Interakt, which counters man-in-the-middle and other fraudulent attacks through real-time SIM-swap checking and multi-factor transaction authentication. CWG will work in tandem with local mobile VAS aggregators to enable Interakt at mobile networks in the region.

Mobile payments are exploding but responding quickly to technological developments and unpredictable changes in consumer preferences can be risky – and expensive.

Entersekt’s product Connekt helps financial services providers launch new payment services within their existing banking apps quickly and seamlessly.

Depending on the country, it can enable all major QR-code–based mobile payment services; card issuer wallets for Mastercard, Visa, and American Express tap-to-pay purchases; a host of third-party wallets; web payments; and 3-D Secure 1.0 and 3-D Secure 2.0 protected card-not-present payments.

Connekt does the work of bridging all of these disparate technologies. “It’s a converged payments platform that chimes perfectly with the Central Bank of Nigeria’s cashless policy, which aims to reduce use of cash by significantly boosting mobile payments penetration,” explained Adeyipo. “It makes mobile payments services easy to deploy and even easier to use.”

Speaking of the partnership, Pattison Mutambiranwa, SVP Middle East and Africa at Entersekt, said, “It pays to work with the best.

Like Entersekt in South Africa, CWG counts up to 60 percent of domestic banks as customers. It is deeply knowledgeable of the financial sector’s needs, not only in Nigeria but right across West, Central, and East Africa.

We’ve enjoyed every minute working with such a dynamic and experienced team, and I’m confident our combined competencies will work wonders for organizations deploying our technology.”

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