Fraud & Security -

Cyber security – why mobile transactions pose high risk

As National Cyber Security Awareness Month continues, new data from the Global Trust Intelligence Network (The Network) confirms the growing use of mobile devices for banking and online shopping. Of more than 500 million monthly transactions, The Network

A shield in front of a mobile phone

Cyber security threat to mobile

finds 26% initiate from mobile devices and more than a third of mobile transactions are for online banking purposes.

“Mobile transactions are continuously on the rise across industries, which translates to an increased risk for cyber security threats,” says Andreas Baumhof, CTO, ThreatMetrix. “In fact, by the end of the year, mobile commerce sales are projected to surpass $25 billion. Businesses must have preventative strategies in place to assure mobile transactions are protected from cybercriminals.”

The rapid growth in mobile transactions comes with increased cyber security risks – mobile activity does not necessarily go through the same high level security screening as desktop transactions. Specifically, mobile transactions pose a high fraud risk for the following reasons:

  • Mobile browsers are less accurate. Mobile browsers do not collect the same scope and accuracy of information as their desktop counterparts, invalidating some security measures. For example, a mobile device using the Opera web browser often inaccurately shows devices as connecting via an IP address in Denmark, no matter where the transaction originates from.
  • Mobile apps have less secure back-end processes. Many companies implement alternate back-end processes for mobile transactions in the rush to develop mobile-optimized apps. To do so, security is often not a top priority in initial mobile app development, opening the door to cybercriminals who spot holes in security measures.
  • Customer convenience trumps security. To create a more seamless customer experience, businesses often make decisions that compromise mobile security for convenience purposes. For example, because it’s harder to type on a virtual keyboard, online banks might let mobile devices bypass a security step of entering a code on a virtual keyboard.

“Our data shows that hackers are fully aware of the vulnerabilities in mobile security, and they are using them to their advantage,” continues Baumhof. “We are also seeing a growing number of suspicious transactions come from PCs that are pretending to be mobile devices by disguising their browser IDs as mobile browsers. Again, this is in the hope that they can bypass lighter security or fraud prevention measures found on mobile browsers.”

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