Payment Company Warns against Cyberattacks

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Visa, a digital payment company has stated that online transactions, despite its benefits, comes with its attendant risks, which it said must be guarded against.

Risk Manager, Visa West Africa, Aribidesi Lawal, who highlighted the online risks, said: “Consumers have fully embraced digital payments in the COVID-19 era. In fact, a staggering 78 per cent of consumers have now completely adapted their payment methods due to safety concerns and 48 per cent will no longer shop at a store which doesn’t offer contactless payment. While this new consumer behavior presents enormous opportunity for digital-first retailers, these new behaviors are not without risks.”

According to Lawal, with consumer’s shift online, fraudsters have sought opportunities to exploit changes in how people pay for goods and services. Global businesses reported an average of 4,000 cyberattacks on average per day since COVID-19, representing a 400 per cent increase from what was reported pre-pandemic. In turn, we were seeing organisations adopting new security procedures to ensure transactions remain trusted and secure.

Addressing how COVID-19 presents fraudsters with new opportunities, Lawal said the new era of fraud was marked by more sophisticated attempts to trick people into sharing sensitive information.

“For example, across Central Europe, Middle East and Africa, we have seen an increase in social engineering attacks, including phishing, where fraudsters are exploiting the gaps which existed pre-pandemic and have intensified during the crisis. Phishing, specifically, has grown much more complex throughout the pandemic, and now includes a number of variants, such as spear phishing – attacks targeting a specific victim with personalised communication and vishing, which includes voice phishing scams, as well as spoofed websites.”

In the likelihood of implementation, Lawal said: “Friendly fraud is another type of attack on the rise, where individuals’ card and passcodes are used without permission by friends, family or other close associates.

“For merchants it can be a cost of doing business because it’s difficult to track, and most of time refunds are issued without investigating the matter further. Friendly fraud is said to reduce legitimate sales by 1 per cent and profits by 20 per cent.

He, however, said that despite this, the commerce ecosystem has recognised the challenges and responded well, taking a technology-led approach to address emerging threats.

While most businesses were already investing in technology-led security systems, the pandemic kicked this into overdrive, as businesses fought to better combat fraudsters and navigate the new, digital world. As businesses accelerated the use of secure technologies, including tokenisation, contactless and EMV ‘smart card’ chips, the secure nature and performance of digital transactions also improved.

Speaking about security in the post-COVID world, Lawal said with COVID-driven uncertainty set to remain in the near future, the next 12 to 18 months may bring even more disruption and transformation. “However, I believe that the dramatic shift we have seen towards digital payment will continue as consumers and merchants show increasing preference for eCommerce and contactless payments,” Lawal added.

As fraudsters become increasingly sophisticated in a digital world, organisations must innovate and invest in technology to, not only meet evolving demands, but to ensure the safety and security of digital transactions for customers. Investing in new, innovative ways of onboarding customers and new ways to pay, such as online, in-app, contactless, and IoT, will make or break a business in a post-COVID-19 world, Lawal further said.