To say that the year 2020 was full of turmoil, both at a health and economic level is putting it mildly. With a surge of the world’s population confined to their homes for weeks and months on end, it is no wonder that digital traffic exploded at an unparalleled level.
Around the world, people were suddenly dependent on the internet for all of their shopping, entertainment, work, and socializing needs. For many, it was their first venture into cyber shopping. This new segment of the population has been dubbed, “digital debutants”.
Along with these newbies and just the sheer economic destruction from government-issued lockdowns, many people became unemployed and were driven to engaging in fraudulent activity, due to financial desperation.
The disruption of economies worldwide saw an unprecedented spike in fraudulent activity. Once stemming from developing countries, the shift saw more developed regions in Europe coming right on top in fraudulent attacks.
Europe Leads In Fraudulent Attacks
Regions in Europe were battered the hardest by the COVID-19 pandemic. The fourth quarter also had many European countries constrained by “second-wave lockdowns”. By the end of 2020, brick-and-mortar stores experienced a “record-low” in sales. This is what drove these stores to move their operations entirely online.
According to “Arkose Labs’ Q1 2021 Fraud Report”, The highest attacks occurred during Black Friday, especially on payments. Pushed by “bot volume”, the attack rate in the fourth quarter of 2020 experienced an attack rate of 39%.
Another onslaught of attacks targeted a mostly homebound population by way of online dating and gaming sites. “Human-driven fraud” was at its highest rate when it came to fake account registrations, coming in at 22.5%.
It was found that Russia was the “top attacking country”, however, it was followed by atypical countries like Germany, the Netherlands, Ukraine, and Turkey.
Although attacks were at an elevated level in Western Europe, a staggering 52% of EU-based attacks emerged from Russia in the fourth quarter of 2020. Russia also led the way in human-driven attacks.
The United Kingdom came at a close second. Not typically known as an epicenter of human fraud, the U.K. has succumbed to economic upheaval due to the pandemic and its subsequent and repeated lockdowns.
The Most Attacked Industry
Throughout 2020, online gaming was the most attacked industry. Bot attacks bombarded gaming platforms with an attack rate of 32.7%. Using “high-volume campaigns”, fraudsters focused their attacks on numerous consumer touchpoints. The massive inpouring of new customers during the pandemic translated into a much higher motivation to attack.
Online gaming platforms tend to feature complex digital worlds and virtual economies. This provides many different paths towards monetization. This can include farming and being able to resell “in-game gold” and real money trading.
A popular game franchise was targeted, with fraudsters trying to take advantage of its popularity by going after other players, using scams and phishing in order to obtain personal data. There was also “bot-driven abuse” to stockpile assets inside the game economy, where they can be sold in exchange for real money.
Fraud Attacks Are Becoming More Common And More Intense
The pandemic brought more fraud attacks never before seen and is not expected to taper down anytime soon. In fact, as more consumers are forced to make most of their purchases online, more fraudsters will be ready to launch an all-out assault on unsuspecting customers.
Companies must arm themselves with robust tools in order to stop them.