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The Future of Payment Security: Leveraging Cyber Threat Intelligence

8 minute read

Most payments your business makes or receives are made online in the 21st century, especially when the online component of in-person credit or debit card payments is considered, which means that securing the payment process is a must. This increase in online transactions has resulted in concerns over security, especially for businesses that frequently make large online payments. Leveraging cyber threat intelligence services can help businesses achieve more secure online payment processing, as well as improve their overall security posture. Here is an overview of the importance of cyber threat intelligence, key components of a strong cyber threat intelligence system, and ways hackers may exchange information that impacts your business.

Why Is Cyber Threat Intelligence Important?

Many businesses rely more heavily on the internet now than they did a decade ago. Globally, digital payments transaction value is projected to reach $9.49 trillion​ in 2023, with an expected annual growth rate of 11.8%. This rise is coinciding with an increase from threat actors targeting ecommerce, which one report found increased by 29% from the previous year. This is especially true when it comes to online payments, and having a strong cyber threat intelligence system in place before you need it is an important step in keeping the payments your business makes and receives out of the wrong hands.

Key Objectives of a Cyber Threat Intelligence System

Designing a cyber threat intelligence system capable of quickly identifying and responding to potential threats is crucial for protecting your business and keeping the payments it makes and accepts secure. Here are five major components of any highly effective cyber threat intelligence system.

Effective Risk Analysis

Risk modeling is often a helpful tool for creating policies based on the types of threats your business is most likely to experience, but the results of these models do not always produce results that are applicable in real-world scenarios. Relying solely on risk modeling isn’t advisable, but supplementing it with robust cyber threat intelligence can provide valuable context for threats.

Robust Vulnerability Management

Understanding threats and their potential targets allows you to allocate resources more wisely than attempting to protect every aspect of your cyber infrastructure equally. Identifying critical assets and operations most likely to cause significant harm to your business if breached can help you prioritize resources and defenses effectively.

Powerful Fraud Prevention

Businesses of any size can be severely impacted by fraudulent activity, and heavy reliance on technology means that the recent spike in potential frauds can be even more devastating. Businesses that handle a high volume of payments are at a particularly high risk of potential fraud, and strong cyber security systems help ensure payments to and from your business are protected to help your business and your customers avoid losing money.

Efficient Security Operations

Staying up-to-date on the ever-changing threat landscape can be challenging, but having a fast and accurate data collection system is helpful to identify the most significant threats and begin the response process as needed. These systems can also help your security team quickly contain attacks swiftly, preventing them from spreading while repairs are made.

Impactful Incident Response

Even the strongest cyber threat intelligence systems can experience breaches, which means that taking steps to implement effective incident response is just as important as working to prevent cyberattacks and other security problems from occurring in the first place. Your cyber threat intelligence system should be capable of acting as soon as a potential penetration occurs, as well as keeping false positives to a minimum to reduce the amount of time spent working on nonissues to increase your security team’s capacity to mitigate legitimate threats.

Threat Actor Tactics, Techniques, and Procedures (TTPs)

Today’s cybercriminals are experts at finding new ways to access your money and other resources, and more sophisticated techniques for doing so are constantly emerging. This means that being diligent about staying on top of potential vulnerabilities is key when it comes to protecting your business and your customers. Here are some of the most frequent ways threat actors may impact the security of payments to and from your business. 

SS7 Vulnerabilities 

SS7 attacks target SS7 security flaws to intercept information from cellular networks. Cyber threat intelligence can identify patterns and anomalies associated with such attacks, enabling organizations to proactively secure their communication channels and prevent unauthorized access.

SWIFT Codes 

SWIFT codes are used for transferring high volumes of money between banks, and they are intended to make high-value transactions as secure as possible. However, these codes can be hacked and used by people other than the intended recipient to initiate and complete unauthorized transactions. CTI can monitor for suspicious activities and provide real-time alerts, helping financial institutions to reinforce their defenses against such vulnerabilities.

Malicious Applications

Threat actors may use illegitimate links to install malicious applications on your devices to give them unauthorized access to your information. CTI plays a critical role in early detection of these applications, allowing organizations to respond swiftly before significant damage is done.

Automation Tools 

Artificial intelligence is constantly growing stronger, which means that the need for human input when carrying out cyber attacks is becoming less necessary. Many of these steps can be automated to make it easier for cybercriminals to obtain more money faster by doing less work.

As cyber attacks become more automated, CTI adapts to detect and counter these threats. It enables organizations to enhance their security measures against automated attacks and safeguard their assets.

Social Media 

Threat actors that gain unauthorized access to a bank’s social media pages can make followers think they are accessing a secure site. Links that are posted on a hacked social media page may, in fact, lead to a copy of a bank’s website that looks legitimate to the average user but gives the threat actor access to users’ login information. The stolen information can then be used to log into and empty online bank accounts through the legitimate website.

Insider Recruiting

Not all potential threats come from outside your organization, and it is also important to be aware of potential signs of insiders within your organization that may be working to funnel money out of your business through fake payments and other channels that appear legitimate. These threats may come from current members of your organization that are recruited by outside cybercriminal groups or new hires that join your organization for the sole purpose of working with these groups.

Where to Find Threat Actor Activity

Dark web and deep web sources make up the majority of the channels cybercriminals use to get the information they need. These sources cannot be tracked or accessed by a typical browser, which means that it is much easier for cybercriminals to cover their tracks. 

Dark Web Sources 

The dark web cannot be tracked or accessed using any standard browser, which means that it is an ideal option for cybercriminals to use to find and share various types of underground information. 

Credit Card Shops 

J-Stash, Genesis Store, and other credit card shops make it easy for cybercriminals to access a wide range of stolen credit cards. These fast and widespread underground credit card marketplaces can be problematic for individuals and devastating for major corporations that can lose a significant amount of money if they do not notice early enough to cancel their cards. 

Black Markets 

Black markets are another common option that cybercriminals use to exchange credit card information. Many black markets appear seemingly at random and disappear just as quickly, which means that keeping up with the latest threats can be quite difficult. 

Cyber threat intelligence can help in identifying stolen credit card details being traded. This information can be crucial for banks and financial institutions to proactively block compromised cards, thereby mitigating financial losses.

Cybercrime Forums and Chat Rooms 

A wide range of both open and private forums and chat rooms are available for cybercriminals to use to buy, sell, and otherwise exchange confidential information. These dark web sources are difficult for average users to find, but they are one of the most common ways cybercriminals access the details they need to complete fraudulent transactions and transfers. 

Cyber threat intelligence services specialize in infiltrating and monitoring these forums and chat rooms. This enables them to gather intelligence about upcoming threats, data breaches, or fraudulent activities being planned, thereby enabling preemptive actions.

Clear and Deep Web Sources 

Clear and deep web sources provide similar channels to those that can be found on the dark web for cybercriminals to use to find and share information in ways that are difficult or impossible to detect. 

Social Media 

Cyber threat intelligence is vital for detecting and mitigating cyber threats on social media platforms. It identifies and monitors fake profiles, phishing campaigns, and hacked accounts, helping organizations to quickly respond to threats and protect sensitive information from being compromised.

App Stores 

In app stores, cyber threat intelligence is essential for identifying fraudulent apps and safeguarding user data. It detects apps that are designed to steal personal information or engage in financial fraud, enabling quick removal of these apps and protecting users from potential harm.

Domain Registrars 

A domain registrar manages the ownership of domain names and the IP addresses that are linked to ownership of each website. If these registrars are hacked, a cybercriminal can pose as the owner of a website to gain access to users’ login information and payments that are made through the site. Cyber threat intelligence plays a pivotal role in monitoring for signs of domain registrar hacking attempts.

Paste Sites 

Cyber threat intelligence also involves monitoring paste sites for leaked confidential information. This enables organizations to quickly respond to data leaks, potentially containing the spread of sensitive information.

Detecting and Mitigating Fraud Using Cyber Threat Intelligence Services

Having a variety of tools available to quickly find and respond to potential threats is an important step in protecting your business and your customers, and choosing a cyber threat intelligence service you trust can go a long way toward supporting your IT team in this area. At ZeroFox, we are here to analyze a wide range of data surrounding potential threats to your business and the security of its payments ecosystem and to quickly respond to issues that are found to minimize the level of damage they may be capable of causing. 

Contact us today to learn more about why learning about potential threats to your organization, how to prevent them, and how to respond to vulnerabilities as early as possible can protect your business by providing more secure payment processing or to request a demo!

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