A psychologist, a criminologist and a biologist do anti-fraud

March 19, 2015

No, it's not the beginning of a joke. It's a reflection of the diversity of background and training that can be found at Forter. As our CEO, Michael Reitblat, explained in a recent interview with Karen Webster, one of the world's experts on emerging payments, this vibrant variety is actually key to an understanding of how Forter fights fraud.

Why?

Because there are two elements that are essential to a highly effective fraud prevention system: machine learning and the ability to harness the power of big data; and human understanding and expertise. It's tempting in an age of technology to assume that the burden of learning and making accurate decisions should be placed on hi-tech anti-fraud systems - and it's certainly true that the speed and efficiency of automated fraud prevention far outruns what's possible using traditional manual reviews. Forter isn't unaware of this: our system is completely automated and runs in real-time. But leaving human intuition and ability out of the picture would be a mistake.

When it comes to fraud, there's no such thing as silver bullet. It would be nice if there were, but fraud is perpetrated by humans, and that means dealing with human ingenuity, creativity and adaptability.

It's astonishing how fast fraudsters work out ways to evade the most complex barriers to their crimes. They search for weak spots - and they always find them. If the core system can't be hacked, they can go after third party plug-ins or the authentication process (as in the recent Apple Pay frauds) or work as a group to keep testing everything until they find a backdoor.

This passage from the article is just too good not to quote: "The common metaphor for talking about cybercrime is a burglar trying to break into a house... an analogy that is going out of date – this isn’t one burglar with a tool bag going after a target, this is someone unleashing hundreds of millions of weaponized termites (that he had created by a weaponized termite breeder paid in bitcoin) on your house and waiting to see which wall they get through first."

The result is that many merchants have simply come to accept fraud as a price of doing business online. Forter doesn't think it should be that way, and the reason we're able to put our "money right where [our] advanced data analytics platform is" (it's a very quoteable article, you should really read it) is this unique combination of state-of-the-art technology and human expertise.

If fraudsters are fast and fraudsters are creative, then to fight them, we have to leverage those same qualities. By bringing a true variety of knowledge and experience together, Forter is able to keep up with and even stay ahead of the fraudsters. The psychologist contributes an understanding of how and why people act the way they do, the criminologist an awareness of crime and criminals, the biologist a perspective on complex connections... And the musician, the finance expert, the theater director, and all the rest bring their own insights to the whole!

Fraud and fraudsters present an increasingly intricate, pervasive problem. But by making the most of the knowledge, vision and backgrounds of people from a range of different disciplines, as well as machine learning and big data, we can fight back, and create fraud-free e-commerce.

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