In a recent blog post on its website, cybersecurity firm Buguroo ponders whether we are in the midst of a ‘cyber fraud pandemic’ that in some ways parallels the actual viral pandemic we are all living through, and argues that in addition to looking at technical solutions, we should also perhaps be examining the problem from cultural and educational perspectives as well.
The post, titled ‘The Cyber Fraud Pandemic. Contagion in The World of Cybercrime’, is authored by Buguroo Vice President EMEA Tim Ayling, a 20-year veteran of the cybersecurity and anti-fraud industries.
In the post, he uses a study conducted at Carnegie Mellon University by famed researcher Dan Ariely, in which math students were given a set of 20 problems to solve along with an envelope full of cash. The amount of cash they were permitted to take from the envelope depended on the number of problems they were able to solve correctly.
As Ayling reports in his post, the study showed that the number of average reported correct answers rose from seven when the students had to submit them to the teacher, to 12 when they were asked to feed their answer sheets into a shredder (which, unbeknownst to the students, was cleverly rigged to only shred the edges of the paper).
In a third control group, an actor posing as a particularly capable student announced they were finished mere minutes after starting, and that they had managed to correctly solve all 20 problems.
“I get to take everything, right?” the student asked.
“Yes, of course, you’ve solved them all correctly, you can take the entire envelope,” replied the teacher.
In this third group, the number of average reported correct answers rose to 15, more than doubling the results from the first group.
Ayling argues that this seemingly contagious form of dishonesty is inherent in all of us, and could very well be the reason we are seeing such a dramatic rise in cybercrime. Cybercrime is in fact on the rise, with a recent PWC audit showing that 49% of companies around the world have been victims of cybercrime either directly or indirectly in the past year, a rise of 15-20% from only a few years ago.
Many security experts have pointed to the COVID-19 pandemic, and the rise in remote online transactions that have resulted from it, as a major factor behind the surge in online fraud. The increase has also led to a rapid growth in the popularity of remote biometric authentication and anti-fraud solutions — like those offered by Buguroo — as companies struggle to meet the increased security needs that come with having a massive part of the workforce logging in from home.
November 10, 2020 – by Tony Bitzionis