Digital payment fraud

The growing web of digital payment frauds

by | Feb 17, 2021 | IT Security

As consumers are rapidly shifting to online payments due to COVID-19, the risks around digital payment frauds have also increased and need a strategic prevention approach.
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The rapid maturing of digital technologies and contactless payments have made lives of businesses and consumers easier. During the pandemic-stricken, confined ecosystem, enterprises quickly moved to digital and incorporated new digital payment and supply chain models. Consumers were also quick to shift to new behavior patterns and replaced in-store shopping with online shopping. Along with merchants and consumers, cybercriminals switched to new ways as well to expand their malevolent and fraud activities.

The upsurge in the online ecosystem is likely to create a brand new generation of digital customers in 2021. As digital experiences continue to become mainstream, cybercriminals are sensing an unprecedented opportunity to use new tricks and technologies to weave a deep fraud web around the gullible people and vulnerable IT networks.

Pandemic fueling fraud surge

By leveraging the latest technologies and network vulnerabilities, fraudsters explore new ways to target individuals and enterprises who lack adequate knowledge or cybersecurity tools to defend themselves.

Consider some statistics to understand the gravity of the situation: India witnessed over 2.9 lakhs cybersecurity incidents related to digital banking in 2020 (Source: CERT-In); a few months back, grocery delivery major Bigbasket faced a data breach, revealing data of 2 crores of its registered users; according to various industry reports, data breaches cost Indian firms Rs 15 crores yearly on average; FICO, a US analytics company revealed that four in five Asian banks are losing money to fraud as real-time payments rise.

The above data is just the tip of the iceberg. With the pandemic as a backdrop, digital payment frauds can upsurge even further.

Unified Payment Interface (UPI) emerged as one of the easiest ways to transfer money through Google Pay, Paytm, PhonePe, Freecharge, and others. This trend, however, also gave birth to various frauds associated with UPI payments.

The situation’s enormity can be fathomable as fraudsters didn’t even spare the Delhi chief minister’s daughter, as reported by various media outlets recently. She recently fell victim to an online payments scam while selling a piece of old furniture on an e-commerce platform. Last year, an Indian Air Force officer too fell prey to one such scam. The UPI-related frauds are even more concerning as India target massive uptake of digital transactions in the next few years, up from the current 46 billion.

There are also instances where users have fallen victim to fake shopping websites and transferring money by relying on unauthorized payment links received through SMS.

In one of the advisories issued in 2019, the Reserve Bank of India had warned all banks to take robust measures to prevent digital banking frauds that can wipe out the entire balance of a customer using UPI technology. With the more users connected to the mobile and the internet, such incidents are ordained to increase.

AI, ML, and user awareness

It is reasonable that most new customers moving to digital payments lack the knowledge and can be tricked by fraudsters to make security mistakes or provide sensitive information about their accounts. It becomes essential for enterprises and banks to take the necessary steps to combat digital payment frauds in such a scenario. (See: AI in banking now geared for a takeoff)

Enterprises and banks overhauling their payment and customer interface mechanisms by integrating digital pieces need to embed technologies such as machine learning and artificial intelligence to provide a secure and frictionless payment experience to customers.

By leveraging AI and ML algorithms’ competencies, the network can flag anomalies and derive a risk pattern, approving or declining a payment. In the year ahead, AI-enabled virtual chatbots will also play a pivotal role in enhancing user awareness and answer all payment-related queries. Enterprises are also testing predictive and prescriptive analysis to identify fraud in digital payment transactions.

There is a strong need for the industry to come together and make appropriate investments in next-generation security frameworks, real-time fraud monitoring solutions, and knowledge sharing programs to outsmart cybercriminals and strengthen consumers’ confidence in digital payments.

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Tech Mahindra earns place in Forbes Blockchain 50

Tech Mahindra earns place in Forbes Blockchain 50

Digital transformation, consulting, and business re-engineering services and solutions provider Tech Mahindra has been featured in the 2021 Forbes Blockchain 50 companies list, a coveted global listing of pioneering companies, startups, and influencers in the distributed ledgers space. Tech Mahindra announced that it has been recognized for its transformative and innovative platform-based approach in Blockchain implementations for global clients. Its implementation of enabling 500 million mobile phone customers in India to manage their consent and preferences to avoid spam calls and text messages, was specifically highlighted. (See: Tech Mahindra gets new blockchain accreditation)

In 2019, Tech Mahindra introduced a Blockchain-based solution using Hyperledger, to manage unsolicited commercial calls (or “spam” calls) in compliance with the regulations and guidelines of the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI). Forbes recognized this project as unique in its scale as it remains one of the largest live ledger implementations in the world to date. In its analysis for Blockchain 50 2021, Forbes highlights that this recognition is an illustration of the trend of globalization of blockchain technology and its incipient rise in Asia, in particular.

 “We are delighted to be recognized by Forbes as one of the leading blockchain organizations of the world. Tech Mahindra is leveraging Blockchain to solve tough business problems and create a completely differentiated experience for end-users through a combination of best-in-class platforms, product innovation, and deep domain expertise. It is indeed a matter of great pride that we are the only Indian company and only IT and digital services consulting company to feature in the coveted list,” said Rajesh Dhuddu, Practice Leader in Blockchain and Cybersecurity, Tech Mahindra in an official release.

Tech Mahindra has been focusing extensively on Blockchain technology and testing its capabilities across a wide range of business verticals.

 The USD, 5.2 billion organization with around 122000 employees across 90 countries, Tech Mahindra, provides a holistic framework called ‘Block Ecosystem’ comprised of various levers: Block Studio, Block Engage, Block Talk, Block Geeks, Block Accelerate, Block Access, and Block Value, which can be used to create applications that unlock significant value for clients. 

For more details on the Forbes 50 Blockchain list and accompanying commentary, click here and here.

Three key drivers that will shape cloud ecosystems in 2021

Three key drivers that will shape cloud ecosystems in 2021

2020 was one of the most challenging years in recorded history. With many paradigm-shifting developments, the year upended the lives of almost every person on this planet. Amidst the changing times that even left many soothsayers speechless, technologies such as the cloud emerged as a silver lining and enabled businesses and economies to adapt to the new normal and survive.

Cloud, which is the pillar of the data-intensive tech ecosystem, played a pivotal role during the pandemic to navigate the change, enabling enterprises to build effective supply chains and setting-up robust remote working environments for their expanded workforce. It empowered businesses to deliver essential services during the lockdown and successfully proved the possibility of creating a more sustainable world.

In 2021, cloud computing is expected to make an even more profound impact as most businesses would focus their strategies to recover from the pandemic. Let’s look at some of the key cloud computing requirements that will impact organizations’ tech ecosystems in 2021. (See: A case for cloud-enabled COVID-19 sensors and loggers)

1. Focus on new use cases

In 2021, cloud computing is expected to make even deeper inroads into organizations as most businesses would focus on building strategies to recover from the pandemic. In general, companies are likely to increase their dedicated IT spending to the cloud, opening the market for more innovations and new growth models.

Most importantly, with technologies like 5G around the corner, cloud service providers will have a massive role in developing new use cases using complementary technologies such as artificial intelligence and automation.

The battle of supremacy between top cloud service providers such as Amazon Web Services (AWS), Microsoft Azure, Google Cloud, and Alibaba is likely to become more intense in the year ahead.

Top cloud platforms — especially Amazon Web Service, Microsoft Azure, and Google Cloud — are expected to gain from this amplified focus. While AWS is likely to retain its supremacy, Microsoft, Google and Alibaba will continue to take aggressive steps to close the gap. To cater to the low-latency and high-redundancy capabilities required by several of these new applications, cloud service providers will look forward to adding intelligent edge capabilities in their solutions.

2. Hybrid and multi-cloud strategies to take center stage

As enterprises become more mature to understand the benefits of a strong cloud ecosystem, they also become more aware of adopting the multi-cloud approach to avoid the unnecessary risk of getting locked into certain vendors. And this cloud computing trend is likely to make a substantial impact in organizational tech ecosystems in 2021.

Kunwar Singh, Lead, Cloud Offerings portfolio across Microsoft Applications and Infrastructure Services, HCL, noted in an HCL blog post, “The hybrid cloud environment provides an essential blanket of security for mission-critical workloads, elasticity for delivery, and high performance to match the ever-growing need for constant innovation. To summarize, today, more than ever, hybrid cloud is an essential partner to businesses, as companies reposition themselves to maintain productivity, creating an efficient mobile workforce and staying poised to handle adversity.”

It is expected that organizations that plan to take a hybrid cloud route will focus on building an intelligent operative ecosystem to govern varied processes effectively.

3. More emphasis on governance and security

CIOs and technology leaders will continue to put more emphasis on deploying services without worrying about infrastructure overheads. Considering the continuous expansion of the distributed workforce, the industry will also focus on developing services and applications around network security, compliance, and privacy to secure sensitive data across the cloud ecosystem.

“For control, privacy, and regulatory concerns, private cloud has been leveraged to a greater degree as compared to public cloud services. From now on, the demand for public cloud services is also slated to rise along with a surge in private and hosted cloud models, ” says, Krishna Rao RV, Senior General Manager, IT AIG Hospitals.

While cloud security and governance will be a key focus area, it also remains one of the biggest challenges for organizations to expand their cloud programs. The industry is also battling with a massive shortage of IT Security professional talent and needs to find the best solution to resolve this issue. In the year ahead, there could be an upsurge of new talent programs and initiatives by the cloud computing providers to fortify necessary skill sets to drive further cloud adoption in enterprise tech ecosystems.

Mathan Babu Kasilingam joins Vodafone Idea as CISO

Mathan Babu Kasilingam joins Vodafone Idea as CISO

Mathan Babu Kasilingam

Indian telecom operator Vodafone Idea has appointed Mathan Babu Kasilingam as its new CISO and Data Privacy Officer. Kasilingam has joined the company in place of Amit Pradhan, who has recently quit the telecom operator to join Mandiant Consulting (Mandiant is a US-based firm that performs advanced cyber investigation, forensics, and incident response).

Kasilingam will be spearheading cybersecurity initiatives, digital security entities, data privacy compliance at Vodafone Idea in his new role. He will also have a huge responsibility to shoulder since data privacy and compliance has become a critical focus area for all the leading telcos.

This is the second technology leadership appointment that Vi has announced in the last four months. In November last year, the telco named Jagbir Singh as its new chief technology officer, following the exit of Vishant Vora. (See: Vishant Vora quits as CTO of Vodafone Idea).

Mathan Babu Kasilingam has over two decades of robust experience in the information security field. He has previously worked with companies such as the National Payments Corporation of India (NPCI), HDFC Bank, Symantec, Wipro Infotech, and BT Global Services in various security and data compliance domains. At NPCI, where he has worked for three years before moving to Vi, Kasilingam introduced several new initiatives and data protection practices.

Kasilingam holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Engineering from Sri Sivasubramaniya Nadar (SSN) College of Engineering and is a Certified Information Systems Security Professional. In his free time, Kasilingam loves playing badminton and enjoys listening to music. 

About Vodafone Idea (Vi)

Vodafone Idea Limited is a pan-India integrated GSM operator, offering 2G, 4G, 4G+, VoLTE, and VoWiFi services. With a subscriber base of 290 million, Vi is India’s third-biggest mobile telecom operator and sixth-largest globally. Vodafone’s Indian arm and Idea Cellular had merged their operations in August 2018 in a highly competitive Indian telecommunication market.

India needs a coherent industry approach for 5G success

India needs a coherent industry approach for 5G success

The last two decades have been instrumental in reshaping India’s economy. And the telecom sector has played a pivotal role in this transformation. From being voice dominated to data-centric, India’s telecom sector with over 1.17 billion connections has ensured businesses acquiring new capabilities, consumers obtaining new, exceptional services and resources. The industry is now keenly looking at the launch of 5G services to enter the next growth phase.

India’s top telecom operators have recently announced their plans to launch 5G this year. While Bharti Airtel has recently tested its live 5G network in Hyderabad using 1800 MHz spectrum, last year, Reliance Jio too had revealed its plans to launch 5G in the latter half of 2021 using standalone architecture.

There has been an upward trajectory of the learning curve, which has significantly helped the telecom sector attract global investments. Even during the COVID-19, the telecom sector, with its profound penetration of low-cost data and voice calls, kept the economy afloat and built necessary resilience. However, the 5G technology in India could realistically take at least a couple of years to make its emergence felt.  (See: Tipping point for 5G networks likely in 2023, says Report)

When introduced, 5G is likely to unleash the power of technologies such as artificial intelligence (AI), augmented reality (AR), virtual reality (VR), and the internet of things (IoT) to bring an altogether new era of hyper-user experience.

Laying the foundation for 5G success

Much of the 5G’s future in India would be dependent on the Indian government’s plan to leverage it for smart city services such as automating traffic signaling, street lighting, smart parking, real-time public transport information, and nursing public infrastructure through drones.

Unlike previous wireless standards, 5G needs a well-conceived industrial strategy. Many organizations are still grappling with limited device availability, policies and regulations, overhauling security architectures, and restricted use case success to form a concrete strategy around 5G.

While the Indian telcos may have set ambitious targets to be ready for commercial 5G services by the end of this year, the leap would be challenging, especially in the consumer segment, unless there is a broader range of affordable 5G devices are available.

Besides, the telecom operators, sitting on razor-thin margins, would need cost-effective but quality gear to support the new networks. This requirement could be well-supported by several flagship schemes launched by the Indian government, such as Digital India and Make in India.

Another crucial area for the success of 5G is the efficient and more customer-centric business models for enterprises. The fabric of business processes could get a turbo boost from AI-driven IoT.

While businesses are keen to know about the potential of 5G, they need to be made aware of the specific advantages offered by 5G compared to the legacy wireless technologies such as 4G and Wi-Fi. Telcos will need to demonstrate the successful use cases driven by 5G and its applicability in the Indian market. Otherwise, there is a fear that many enterprises could only see this up-gradation as an incremental improvement, which is not the case. (See: Here’s how 5G could be a catalyst for IIoT and Industry 4.0)

Resolving the telco’s dilemma

The immediate twelve months after the launch of 5G in India will be heavily focused on managing the cost and complexity of building out 5G networks, spectrum slabs, new revenue generation methodologies, and return on investment (RoI) for telecom operators.

They will also be under tremendous pressure to reimagine themselves as digital service providers while keeping a check on their operating expenses. From a user standpoint, considering the Indian economy’s price-conscious nature, telecom companies would need to reasonably launch their products and services without losing the quality quotient.

A well-crafted strategy, investment in new tools and network modernization, and comprehensive government policies will play a crucial role in addressing several of the above issues.

Learning from the global successes

In 2021, both enterprises and telecom service providers will be focusing on maintaining network services, deploying remote network monitoring solutions, expanding internet services, and undertaking research and deployments of global delivery centers.

The Indian government is also needed to develop innovative policy solutions to find the right spectrum price for forthcoming 5G auctions. Another most desirable attribute for 5G success is the availability of end-to-end solutions. Globally, many IoT-related developments are underway in remotely operated robotic surgeries, driverless vehicles, and several other connected devices and applications. India is likely to learn from the immersive experiences of global markets.

Moreover, telecom service providers will need further to develop their app ecosystems and partnerships with OTT players to garner more subscribers and ARPUs.

5G is likely to enable the next wave of industrial transformation with automated supply chain models and orchestration. However, the CIOs would look forward to lucid 5G plans from the telecom service providers rather than the transactional deliberations to achieve substantial outcomes from AI and IoT implementations.

TBZ CTO Dr. Pooran Jaiswal exits

TBZ CTO Dr. Pooran Jaiswal exits

Dr. Pooran Jaiswal

Dr. Pooran Jaiswal.

Dr. Pooran Jaiswal, Chief Technology Officer of Tribhovandas Bhimji Zaveri (TBZ) Limited, a leading jewelry brand, has quit the company. Dr. Jaiswal joined TBZ in 2018 and led IT budgeting and planning, technology improvement, and automation efforts at the jewelry retail chain.

TBZ has a presence in more than 29 Indian cities and is among the largest and oldest jewelers in the country.

Under Dr. Pooran Jaiswal’s leadership, TBZ, the 156-year-old jewelry major, enhanced several vital processes and improved customer experience by transforming its overall IT infrastructure and implementing robotic process transformation (RPT). He was instrumental in deploying Oracle’s Autonomous Database at TBZ, one of the first of its kind for any jewelry maker in Asia.

During his tenure at TBZ, Jaiswal also created a strong cloud strategy, moving the company’s workload-heavy processes to cloud-based infrastructure.

Jaiswal had also led several innovations such as testing and embedding small internet of things (IoT) devices in the premium jewelry category to analyze whether the jewelry had been tried, sold, or unsold.

Before joining TBZ, Dr. Jaiswal was CTO at Globus. With over 20 years of extensive experience in the IT industry, Jaiswal had earlier worked with Rediff and NIIT. It is not known yet if Jaiswal has accepted any new role, but if the industry buzz is to be believed, he is close to finalizing his next move.

About Tribhovandas Bhimji Zaveri (TBZ)

Located in Mumbai, Maharashtra, India, TBZ is part of the organized jewelry markets with a strong legacy of 156 years. Today, the company’s operations spread across 26 cities and 11 Indian states, covering a total retail space of 110,666 sq. ft.

Historically, TBZ was the country’s first jeweler to offer buy-back guarantees for jewelry purchased through their stores in 1938. The company primarily sells gold jewelry and diamond-studded jewelry through its 37 showrooms, including five franchise-operated stores.

For other recent C-Track movements, click here.

Jeff Bezos passes on the Amazon baton to Andy Jassy

Jeff Bezos passes on the Amazon baton to Andy Jassy

Jatinder SinghNot many were entirely surprised to hear about Amazon’s Jeff Bezos stepping down from the CEO role in the third quarter of 2021. While this may be the most significant leadership movement so far in 2021, industry onlookers had already started to bet on how long Jeff will continue at the helm of Amazon!

And why not? The technology industry has seen successful transitions at Apple, Microsoft, and Alphabet, companies who have achieved even greater heights after their founder CEOs paved the way for fresh leadership.

The change, however, is an important event for Amazon’s stakeholders and employees who will be looking for a new chapter of growth under the leadership of Andy Jassy, who will succeed Jeff. Andy is currently heading Amazon Web Services (AWS), the company’s cloud computing division.

Jeff Bezos will shoulder the Executive Chair’s role, a strategic advisor to the CEO, and focus on new products and early initiatives being developed by Amazon. Bill Gates at Microsoft, Bob Iger at Disney, and Eric Schmidt assumed similar roles after stepping down as CEOs from their respective companies.

Fresh leadership perspective

Jeff Bezos, 57, founded Amazon in a garage in 1994 and made it one of the giant multinational technology behemoths through his sheer grit and visionary leadership. Over the years, the company has expanded its orbit from just being the e-commerce player to music and video streaming, providing cloud computing services, robotics, artificial intelligence, and more. However, it looks like Jeff is now convinced to pass the baton to a new leader who can bring fresh perspective and innovations to take the growth ahead.

In his own words, despite the remarkable success Amazon had achieved, Jeff had admitted in 2018 that the company is far from invincible and might fail one day. “If you look at large companies, their lifespans tend to be 30-plus years, not hundred-plus years,” Jeff had reportedly said.

Jeff Bezos knows that one needs to keep on reinventing to achieve continuous success. By handing over the baton to a new but proven leader, Amazon perhaps wants to add more oomph and shelve the qualms, if any.

Growing focus on cloud

Andy Jassy’s elevation also reflects Amazon’s upping the value chain by leveraging cloud and artificial intelligence, to diversify and grow.

The last few quarters saw a tremendous boom in Amazon’s e-commerce and grocery business, mainly due to the pandemic induced lockdowns and stay at home advisories. But, there are many challenges that the company might need to tackle to achieve profits from its e-commerce business. There is growing competition, supply chain modernization tests, and continuous pressure from retailers to reduce margins. Most of the profit that Amazon earns today comes from AWS. (See: AWS pumps $2.77 bn in India to retain cloud supremacy)

Amazon’s cloud business is the company’s cash cow division and achieving stellar heights. Currently, AWS contributes over 50% of Amazon’s operating income. AWS has clocked $12.7 billion in revenue, up from $9.95 billion a year earlier. In the wake of the growing distributed workforce environment, enterprises are quickly embracing cloud computing services to upsurge agility, deliver innovations, and modernize their infrastructure.

Clearly, Jeff Bezos and Amazon are betting big on the data and computing power in the new decade and aims to pull new rabbits out of the hat for accomplishing greater heights.

 

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