Cyber barbarians are at the gates! Analytics can help


Barbarians are relentless, and they are inside the gates!  That didn't go well for the Romans, and they had the most advanced technologies of their day.  So how do we do better against the relentless waves of cyber barbarians attacking virtually everywhere?

The answer to that is analytics, which offers early detection of behaviors that indicate a breach in the wall, and quick responsiveness to repel those virtual ropes and ladders.  Most of these attackers are after data they can use to commit fraud, identity theft and hijack finances, and their goals are quickly uncovered with proper monitoring.  Some stats around the risks faced today:

  • The FBI is on record, stating that over 500 million financial records were hacked  last year, and 110 million Americans, half of all US adults, had their personal data exposed year
  • In the U.S., an identity theft occurs every 3 seconds, according to Javelin Strategy & Research
  • According to reports to the FTC, 34% of stolen identities are utilized for government fraud, with the highest rates in Florida.  Credit card fraud was a distant second at 17%

On a personal note, in a 12 month period, I received four notices of data breaches from a wide variety of companies, ranging from retailers to health insurers.

But once data has become the virtual haul of cyber barbarians, how can we be protected as consumers?  How do banks, retailers and government agencies ensure that they don't become victims of fraud as citizens suffer from the impacts of identity theft?  Properly monitoring attempted contacts, transactions and requests through analytics.  Seeing if the information provided matches that on record.  Comparing new behavior to known behavior, and results across transactions to identify outliers and matches with past fraud.

Many organizations are following this route.  As more do, we will all see the impacts of data breaches mitigated.  When there isn't any treasure to be raided, the motivation for cyber barbarians to attack plummets.  Kentucky Department of Revenue is heading down this path, protecting citizens of that Commonwealth (and the rest of us - identity theft crosses borders!) from fraud and the impacts of identity theft.  At the same time, this keeps taxes in place and available to pay for roads, teachers and other critical needs, rather than running off with the cyber barbarians.

Believe me, that's a much better approach than a moat.

More to add to the conversation during International Fraud Awareness Week? Please share your thoughts in response to this blog, or seek me out on Twitter @CarlHammersburg and weigh in.



About Author

Carl Hammersburg

Manager, Government and Healthcare Risk and Fraud

Carl Hammersburg manages the SAS Government and Healthcare Risk and Fraud team, and has been with SAS since 2012. Prior to that, he spent 20 years in anti-fraud activities for Washington State’s exclusive workers’ comp insurer, the Department of Labor and Industries. In 2004, Carl formed that agency’s comprehensive fraud program, covering tax and premium audit, claim investigation, provider fraud and collections. Data sharing and investigative partnerships with other State and Federal agencies, as well as driving public availability of information and awareness served as cornerstones to the anti-fraud activities of the program. During his stewardship, audit and investigative activities doubled and outcomes tripled, based on a focus on data mining and predictive analytics that improved efficiency and case selection. Program success under Carl’s leadership resulted in awards from two successive Governors of Washington State.

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