You cannot bribe a computer

Issue 1 2023 Access Control & Identity Management, Security Services & Risk Management

Corruption is a cancer that destroys the prospects and stability of countries and businesses. It widens wealth gaps and punishes the poor. It costs countries many billions in lost revenue, and corruption has become that much easier through technology. Fraud, one of corruption's most prominent faces, thrives thanks to the speed and complexity of our connected world.

However, technology can also help stem fraud and corruption. Identities can help companies radically reduce fraud risks, using automation to swiftly catch and block suspicious identity-related attempts. The growing availability of identity orchestration platforms is good news for the good guys, and devastating news for fraudsters and other criminals.

"The combination of newer technologies have had a big impact on identity verification," says Daniel Robus, Chief Revenue Officer for Contactable "Analytics, automation and artificial intelligence work together on these platforms to give every organisation fraud-fighting abilities."

Technology vs fraud

The connected world has been beneficial to most aspects of business life, even criminal activities. Hacking attacks are rampant, cybercriminals try to infiltrate business systems and steal their data with alarming frequency, and mismanagement of digital assets such as cryptocurrencies have enabled billions of stolen money to disappear.

Worst of all, stolen identities are often a key part of these activities. As our identities are the most common means to access systems, networks or private areas, the incentive to steal them is huge. These stolen identities are then used to contribute to social engineering (techniques to mimic others and abuse that trust), and fuel identity theft activities. Businesses are highly susceptible to this risk, says Robus.

"Every time you verify a customer's details, you are checking if they are a trusted party you can work with. Unfortunately, criminals steal identities so they can abuse that trust. For example, they use someone's details to buy something on credit then disappear with the goods. This trick is not new, but today's digital criminals are becoming more and more creative and are doing this at scale."

There is good news. Technology can also work against them. The European country of Estonia is a living example of this approach. This former Soviet country has been at the forefront of digitisation, recognising technology as a powerful ally to avoid the corruption-heavy problems that dogged former Soviet countries. It placed its state services and databases online, and used automation to help create a transparent environment.

Today, Estonia ranks 14th in Transparency International's Corruption Perceptions Index. None of its East European peers are even in the top thirty. Technology can fight fraud and corruption, and that capability is now available to every type of organisation regardless of size or sector.

Identity platforms fight fraud

Estonia could put the focus and resources of an entire nation behind its anti-corruption efforts. In recent years, digital platform services have made such technologies available to the broader market, powered by new-generation technologies.

"We all use platforms every day to access our emails and to watch our shows," says Robus. "It's very accessible and cost effective, and the platform model creates a level of central control that was previously very hard to run. Platforms also help users take advantage of new technologies as they become relevant. An orchestration platform with identity management at its heart provides a centralised management environment. By consolidating all systems and data sources, the platform can streamline and automate fraud detection and response, making it easier to detect and prevent attacks in real-time."

Platforms are owned and maintained by their creators, but clients access platform services as if they are native to their businesses. The leading platforms integrate with other business systems, such as enterprise security operations centres. A best-of-breed identity platform can integrate with other security systems and tools, such as firewalls, intrusion detection systems, and anti-virus software, to provide a comprehensive view of the security posture and improve overall security. Such platforms also enhance other business functions, including finance processes such as Know Your Customer (KYC) and Anti Money Laundering (AML).

Digital Identity Orchestration platforms use advanced analytics, including machine learning and artificial intelligence, to analyse large data sets, identify patterns and anomalies, and trigger alerts when potential fraud is detected. All this can happen in real time and supports ad-hoc reporting and detailed forensics trails for investigations. Such platforms are becoming essential to all types of organisations.

"I credit two important changes driving more adoption," says Robus "The platform model makes this capability much easier and more affordable to adopt and integrate into a business – not just for business systems, but also the number of people who can use the platform and benefit from its features. The second change is the evolution of technologies such as analytics, connectivity, and data management. Humans no longer have to spend days or weeks trying to uncover fraud. They can find out very quickly and stop the fraud before it causes real damage, or the perpetrators get away."

An Estonian President once quipped, "You cannot bribe a computer. It doesn't know how to accept an envelope." With the correct identity orchestration platform, you cannot easily lie to a computer about your identity or conveniently cover your tracks. Technology can fight fraud thanks to modern digital platforms and advances in analytics, integration, and automation. The only question is how will you use it to reduce your fraud risks?

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