Mastercard leverages AI to combat cyberattacks

Mastercard leverages AI to combat cyberattacks
Ajay Bhalla, president, cybersecurity and intelligence at Mastercard.
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Updated 20 October 2020

Mastercard leverages AI to combat cyberattacks

Mastercard leverages AI to combat cyberattacks

Cybersecurity fraud rates have hit a near 20-year high, with 47 percent of companies reported to have experienced fraud in the last two years, and this trend has grown considerably during the ongoing COVID-19 crisis. To protect businesses and consumers from cyberattacks, Mastercard has built artificial intelligence (AI) into its network’s multi-layered security strategy, allowing a coordinated set of AI-based services to act within milliseconds. In 2019, Mastercard saved close to $20 billion of fraud through its AI-enabled systems — SafetyNet, Decision Intelligence and Threat Scan. 

Ajay Bhalla, president, cybersecurity and intelligence at Mastercard, said: “One of the impacts of this pandemic is the rapid migration to digital technologies. Recent data shows that we vaulted five years forward in digital adoption, both consumer and business, in a matter of eight weeks. Whether it’s online shopping, contactless payments or banks transitioning to remote sales and service teams, this trend is here to stay — it is not the ‘new normal,’ it is the ‘next normal.’

“Amidst all of this, with more and more of us interacting and transacting online, we are creating huge amounts of data. By 2025, we’ll be creating an estimated 463 exabytes every day. And that is only going to increase.”

He said the pandemic has fundamentally changed many of the arenas where AI operates, particularly in the case of cybersecurity and fraud. “More people are working from home and that has also opened new doors for fraudsters and hackers. Added to this, the current crisis is breeding fear, anxiety and stress, with people understandably worried about their health, safety, family and jobs. Unfortunately, that creates a fertile breeding ground for criminals preying on those insecurities, resulting in more cyberattacks and fraud,” Bhalla said. 

He said Mastercard’s NuData technology has seen attacks both increase in volume and sophistication, with one in every three attacks emulating human behavior. 

Commenting on Mastercard’s efforts in the AI space, Bhalla said: “We’ve been investing significantly in AI for more than a decade and have embedded it in every part of our business. Our AI and machine learning solutions stop fraud, reduce credit risk, fight financial crime, prevent health care fraud and so much more.

“We are applying our AI expertise to solve pressing challenges across a wide range of industries. In health care, we’re working with organizations on cyber assessments to help safeguard their cyber systems, staff and patients at this challenging time. In retail, criminals are increasingly targeting digital channels as we shift to shopping online. What we call ‘Card Not Present’ fraud now represents 90 percent of all fraud, compared to 75 percent before the pandemic. Our AI rapidly learned this new behavior and adjusted its scoring to reflect the new pattern, delivering a stronger performance during the pandemic.”