Visa, the global payment technology company, has successfully blocked a staggering $30 billion in fraud during the first half of 2023, as phishing and ransomware attacks surge. Despite an overall decrease in global fraud rates, Visa’s proactive approach has been instrumental in preventing large-scale fraudulent activities. However, threat actors have still managed to conduct targeted and sophisticated schemes that impact specific institutions, technologies, and processes.
Ransomware attacks have continued to evolve and increase in prevalence, with March 2023 setting a new record for the highest number of attacks in a month, reaching nearly 460 incidents. This marked a 91% increase from February 2023 and a 62% increase compared to the same period in 2022. Exploited vulnerabilities were identified as the most common root cause of ransomware attacks, accounting for 36% of incidents, followed by compromised credentials at 29%. Interestingly, these attacks do not always target payment data specifically but aim to compromise any accessible data, including payment information and personal identifiable information.
Enumeration attacks have also seen a significant increase, impacting both merchants and consumers. Visa utilized its Visa Account Attack Intelligence to identify these attacks in real-time, allowing them to alert merchants and prevent fraudulent activities from occurring.
Within the retail sector, online merchants have become the primary target for fraudsters, accounting for 58% of total fraud and breach investigations. In contrast, brick-and-mortar merchants constituted 20% of investigations, and ransomware and fraud schemes made up 7%. The past six months have witnessed a rise in retail-specific schemes, including false or spoofed merchants that lure customers to share their payment account details without delivering the promised goods or services. Scammers have also adopted malvertising tactics, creating fake ads to gather personal information from unsuspecting victims. Additionally, flash-fraud scams have become more prevalent, where fraudulent merchants establish credibility by processing a small number of legitimate payments before exploiting stolen payment account data to carry out a large number of fraudulent transactions.
An emerging crypto scam in the retail space is the free gift scam, where fraudsters offer a seemingly enticing free gift through a pop-up window. However, when victims click on it, malicious files and payloads are executed, allowing the scammers to communicate with the victims’ wallets and authorize fraudulent cryptocurrency transfers.
Paul Fabara, Chief Risk Officer at Visa, highlighted the importance of remaining vigilant, stating, While we are pleased by the lower-than-expected fraud rate over the last few months, this edition of the Biannual Threats Report continues to underscore just how savvy fraudsters continue to be. Visa remains committed to combatting cybercrime through collaborations with law enforcement agencies and government authorities worldwide.
Visa’s efforts to protect consumers have yielded significant results, leading to the crackdown of major cybercrime platforms and the arrest of individuals involved in fraudulent activities. For instance, the US Secret Service dismantled the cybercrime platform Try2Check, resulting in the arrest of the platform’s administrator who now faces possible imprisonment. Furthermore, collaborative law enforcement operations have targeted cybercrime syndicates engaging in various illegal activities, such as Electronic Benefit Transfer fraud and the operation of the Genesis Market cybercrime platform.
Visa’s Risk Operations Center plays a vital role in triaging and analyzing real-time transactions globally, ensuring immediate identification of potential threats. The Payment Threat Intelligence team gathers comprehensive information about emerging threats, while the Risk and Identify Solutions team focuses on improving authentication technology and reducing false declines. Through these endeavors, Visa aims to ensure the safety and security of the global economy.
Despite the increasingly complex threat landscape, consumers can take solace in Visa’s commitment to safeguarding their financial transactions. By leveraging advanced technology and collaborating with global law enforcement agencies, Visa continues to make significant strides in the fight against cybercrime.