In a world where criminals keep getting smarter, how should we fight cybercrime? 

A Japanese professor demonstrates a home-made biometric jammer, used to prevent fingerprint theft

Image: REUTERS/Kim Kyung-Hoon

Ajay Bhalla
President, Cyber and Intelligence Solutions, Mastercard
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Week after week, headlines about the latest cybersecurity attack dominate the news agenda. Criminals continue to target high-profile organizations and individuals at scale and show no signs of slowing down. From personal data theft, to financial information leakages, to copyrighted material – these attacks occur time and time again. Time is not on our side as criminals need as little as nine minutes to use data posted to the dark web.

Regardless of the measures adopted to prevent breaches, criminals find increasingly innovative ways to bypass them. The sooner we recognize this won’t change, the better, so we can focus on what is truly doable: reducing the impact of cyberattacks.

In a world where criminals are becoming smarter, what can be done? The answer resides in the applied power of innovation in technologies – like biometrics, predictive analytics and artificial intelligence – while being forward-thinking on what’s around the corner.

Let AI lead

We hear talk of quantum computing technology on the horizon – but it’s a long way off. Artificial intelligence is here today. We have it embedded in our network, and see it addressing the fundamental challenge of legacy security protocols in banking: that they simply can’t deal with the pace of change. Artificial intelligence is bringing the ability to be nimble and adaptable. Technology is an enabler. But that means it requires companies and individuals to take action. To innovate and implement moving beyond traditional systems and protocols and embracing the digital future in a secure manner.

After all, criminals aren’t thinking in the past. They are adapting and adopting these same technologies to exploit the weaknesses of existing systems and building new threats. We are seeing the most advanced customers looking for smarter solutions. They understand the rapid change in consumer expectations combined with criminals’ potential to damage their business. They recognize that this is a race and that to compete means doing more than knowing that solutions are available; they must be activated. They are waking up to the fact that the solution is embedding security at the design stage.

There is no silver bullet, no one solution to stop people intent on stealing identities or money. Instead, we must approach this challenge using an assault course of multiple layers with interconnected tools. These layers are interdependent on each other, working together to keep payments safe, prevent attacks and where necessary detect and manage any intrusions. Not every device, terminal or endpoint in a connected ecosystem will be as secure or up-to-date as the next. So, we must review our protocols and ensure the weakest link in the chain is not the easiest access point by supplementing the security elsewhere. It is only by out-innovating the criminals that we will stay ahead in this race.

The convenience factor

As technology evolves, it’s vital that these layers are flexible and adaptable so security measures can be continually updated. A perfect example of this is biometrics. The technology has been seamlessly added as an authentication measure, often working alongside traditional passwords to provide greater levels of security. It has gotten better as technology has made it easier to scan a fingerprint, iris and face. In time, it will replace the password and enable not only greater convenience, but greater security. Artificial intelligence is the latest example of building in adaptability and agility.

But all this is pointless if we forget to strike the right balance between security and delivering the simplicity and convenience that people demand in today’s digital world. They need the peace of mind that their personal information, their money and their identity are secure in the digital age. And sometimes, real-life convenience outweighs caution. So embedding next-generation security solutions in an effortless and imperceptible fashion is critical in driving adoption of these tools. For example, gesture-based security technologies that identify behaviour and can’t be easily mimicked or replicated have huge potential in securing our digital future.

Have you read?

It’s all too easy to get caught up in the crossfire of blame when a breach occurs. Only by unifying and solidifying joint efforts across the board can we address the risks we face every day. The digital evolution underway shows no signs of slowing. Rather, it requires further investment in technologies to keep our data and the digital world secure. We are in this race together, and with an innovative mind-set we can stay ahead of our opponents.

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Related topics:
CybersecurityEmerging TechnologiesFourth Industrial RevolutionArtificial IntelligenceFinancial and Monetary SystemsCybercrime
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