Fighting Rise in Online Fraud: How Visa Stops Attacks in Their Tracks


E-commerce has been growing in popularity for years, but global events since 2020 have markedly accelerated the trend, with more New Zealanders than ever opting to shop online.

New Zealanders spent $7.6 billion online in 2021, according to NZ Post’s annual e-commerce report, a 52% increase from 2019. The average Kiwi spent more than $3,500 online last year, and more than half (58%) of retail businesses in New Zealand now sell online, according to a Better for Business report.

Anthony Watson, Country Director for New Zealand and the South Pacific at Visa, said: “Many of the foundations and enablers for e-commerce were already in place before the pandemic, but things have accelerated significantly since then.

“Consumers didn’t have a lot of alternatives during lockdown, so we started to see a lot more digital engagement with commerce activities,” he says. “The change has been significant, but with tremendous growth comes vulnerabilities. Some people and businesses are new to e-commerce, and parts of the infrastructure need to be regularly updated and refreshed to accommodate the current environment with an “always on” approach to cyber security.”

New Zealanders spent $7.6 billion online in 2021.

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New Zealanders spent $7.6 billion online in 2021.

Modern Cyber ​​Threats

As more and more people shop online, cybercriminals are working on new ways to steal and launch attacks. In our digital world, attacks are becoming increasingly sophisticated, requiring new and improved defenses for businesses and customers.

Enumeration attacks are increasingly common. Fraudsters use automation to test and guess payment identifiers in online payment forms, such as primary account numbers (PAN), card verification values ​​(CVV2), and card expiration dates . Criminals use botnets to take over people’s computers, using the devices to launch large-scale attacks.

Watson says: “These attacks have been happening for some time, but due to the digital shift of the past few years, fraudsters are increasingly concentrated. Criminals use a variety of techniques to guess credentials, using hacked devices. They repeatedly use different combinations until they are successful.”

“It can be overwhelming for businesses on the receiving side, and the impact can be quite significant,” he adds.

Amid the wave of enumeration attacks around the world, Visa is working on new ways to detect and stop them before they happen, says Watson.

Visa has launched a new security roadmap to improve New Zealand's digital defenses.

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Visa has launched a new security roadmap to improve New Zealand’s digital defenses.

A safety roadmap

Global payments leader Visa has launched a new security roadmap to improve New Zealand’s digital defences.

As part of the roadmap, Visa is taking action in six key areas to protect businesses and consumers.

1. Prevent enumeration attacks

Visa has introduced a requirement for New Zealand e-commerce payment providers to invest in capabilities that identify and prevent enumeration attacks. By October next year, vendors must ensure they have advanced controls in place.

Visa continuously scans the payment network to look for anomalies in spending patterns or behavior. The payment provider can use the data to make decisions and send information to banks, alerting them to suspicious transactions.

Other analysis tools are also available for companies, such as CAPTCHA codes to thwart attacks. CAPTCHA codes are a “simple but effective” measure in the fight against enumeration attacks, adds Watson.

2. Drive the adoption of secure technologies

Visa is improving and rolling out its token service to make online transactions more secure. The Visa Token Service replaces personal account information on credit and debit cards with a unique digital identifier called a token. The token allows consumers to transact without exposing their real account details, making them more secure.

Visa is working with the industry to migrate to the new and improved version “2.0” of EMV 3-D Secure (3DS) technology, which adds an authentication layer to online transactions. The latest iteration of the technology is better suited to mobile devices than previous versions and easier for shoppers to use.

3. Securing the first digital payment experiences

Research commissioned by Visa in May 2022 and conducted by YouGov (details on Visa’s Newsroom website) found that more than half (56%) of Kiwis have abandoned an online purchase, security concerns being cited as the main reason, indicating that companies have room to strengthen their security measures.

In addition to improving 3DS technology, Visa will ensure Payment Card Industry Data Security Standards (PCI DSS) are maintained across the payment ecosystem.

“The standards have recently been updated and we will work with companies to ensure that when they store credentials on the network, whether they are tokens or not, they follow a set of criteria for best practices,” says Watson.

4. Ensuring ecosystem resilience

Visa has access requirements and controls in place for any entity connected to its network. When a bank that issues Visa cards cannot respond to authorization requests, for example in the event of a technology failure, Visa can step in to respond on its behalf, ensuring that customers can walk away with their belongings and businesses are paid.

Visa is improving its artificial intelligence processing systems for transaction tracking and payment digitization criteria. Around the world, Visa is using the latest deep learning technology to help financial institutions manage transaction authorizations in the event of a service disruption. Already over a 12-month period, Visa’s artificial intelligence technology has prevented more than $88 million in fraud from impacting New Zealand businesses.

Visa continuously scans the payment network to look for anomalies in spending patterns or behavior.

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Visa continuously scans the payment network to look for anomalies in spending patterns or behavior.

5. Improve the cybersecurity posture of ecosystem participants

As a key player in the world of digital payments, Visa is looking to improve New Zealand’s resilience to cyberattacks, as major incidents continue to impact supply chains, infrastructure, government and large and small businesses around the world.

Visa regularly identifies cyber threats to the ecosystem and informs its banking and commercial customers as well as the public through security alerts, intelligence alerts and its semi-annual threat report.

6. Prevent New Zealand businesses and customers from being scammed

Anyone with a mobile phone or email account will know that scams are all too prevalent in New Zealand.

Visa views education and awareness as a key weapon in the fight against scammers. Visa works with law enforcement agencies and all industry groups to improve messaging on what to look for and identifies common scams through its Payment Intelligence alerts. The Visa website has a wealth of information on the latest scams.

Visa has introduced a requirement for New Zealand e-commerce payment providers to invest in capabilities that identify and prevent enumeration attacks.

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Visa has introduced a requirement for New Zealand e-commerce payment providers to invest in capabilities that identify and prevent enumeration attacks.

The future of business

As e-commerce continues to grow, new fraud threats will continue to emerge. Fraudsters will look for vulnerabilities, so businesses and buyers need to be vigilant.

Visa will be there to ensure that New Zealand continues to be as safe as possible in the future. The payment network believes that improving technology and expanding education will help Aotearoa stay ahead of cybercriminals and make a smooth transition to the digital economy.

“Our job is to anticipate and identify vulnerabilities in systems and ensure we have the right practices, security platforms and tools in place to address them,” says Watson. “I would like New Zealand to get to a point where we have replaced all the valuable network information with tokens that criminals cannot use. This will be a major deterrent to fraudsters.”

“I would also like to see more authentication, such as biometrics, used in e-commerce transactions. Finally, we want to keep every Kiwi customer and business informed about this type of criminal activity.”

To learn more about Visa’s 2022 Future of Security Roadmap, visit https://www.visa.co.nz/pay-with-visa/security/future-of-security-roadmap.html .

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