Global: Visa Reports Alarming Surge in Ransomware Attacks

Visa Says Ransomware Attacks Reach Record Breaking Numbers
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In a shocking revelation, Visa disclosed that ransomware attacks surged to unprecedented levels in March 2023, experiencing a staggering 91% increase compared to the previous month. Furthermore, when compared to the same period in 2022, ransomware attacks showed a substantial 62% uptick, as reported by the digital payments giant in a press release on Thursday (September 7).

Visa identified exploited vulnerabilities and compromised credentials as frequent culprits behind these ransomware attacks. These malicious activities pose a grave threat as they target accessible data, encompassing payment details and personally identifiable information.

Another concerning trend noted is the rise of enumeration attacks, which continued to plague both merchants and consumers. Over the past six months, these attacks witnessed a troubling 40% surge.

Online merchants are emerging as primary targets, constituting a significant 58% of total fraud and breach investigations, while brick-and-mortar merchants accounted for 20% of such investigations.

The press release also highlighted a surge in retail-specific fraud schemes. These schemes involve false, spoofed, or counterfeit merchants, which illicitly obtain customers’ payment account information without fulfilling their orders.

Visa’s vigilance also uncovered an increase in “malvertising,” where fraudulent merchants create websites to collect customer orders but fail to deliver any goods or services, all while surreptitiously pilfering payment account information.

Another disconcerting tactic witnessed in the retail sector is the “free gift” scam. Victims are lured with pop-up windows offering complimentary gifts, but clicking on these pop-ups triggers a malicious payload. This enables fraudsters to execute unauthorized cryptocurrency transfers from victims’ wallets.

Visa, in a commendable proactive stance, managed to thwart a staggering $30 billion in fraudulent transactions from January to June, as disclosed in the press release.

Additionally, Visa’s collaborative efforts with global law enforcement under its Payment Fraud Disruption initiatives have yielded significant results. Notably, this includes the takedown of the major cybercrime platform, Try2Check, and the arrest of suspects linked to an Eastern European crime syndicate involved in electronic benefit transfer (EBT) fraud.

Michael Jabbara, Vice President and Global Head of Fraud Services at Visa, underscored the evolving landscape of cybercrime. He noted that cybercrime and ransomware are no longer confined to well-organized, well-funded criminal groups. Jabbara emphasized that there has been a “democratization” of fraud, with tools and tutorials readily available on the Dark Web, enabling almost anyone to conduct successful cyberattacks.

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