Independent provider of data intelligence for anti-money laundering, anti-corruption and cyber security professionals, Acuris Risk Intelligence has released its Acuris Cybercheck solution.

Its database enables businesses and individuals to determine whether or not their information has been compromised by criminals and what their risk is of being defrauded, or worse.

The solution allows records to be both searched and monitored through APIs; monitoring is an on-going activity that constantly looks at new information and if that poses any risks to an individual or organisation.

Compiled since 2008, the database includes information such as identity, personal and financial data being traded on ‘criminal websites’ globally, typically only found on the ‘non-indexed’ parts of the internet and ‘dark-web’.

“With more and more people sharing sensitive personal data with a vast array of online organisations, the need for cyber protection is crucial for peace of mind,” Joel Lange, managing director, Acuris Risk Intelligence said in a statement.

The system makes use of human analysts to research and harvest data from over 1,000 criminal forums, websites and chat rooms. Many of these analysts are from law enforcement backgrounds, having extensive experience in dealing with the intricacies of digital crime and the modus operandi of these criminal organisations.

Speaking to PaymentExpert, head of market planning, Nick Parfitt, explained that Acuris realised early on of the importance of this data and the positive impacts it can have on society at large by “empowering people and businesses to know their cyber exposure and take pre-emptive steps to stop their identities being compromised.”

He said: “We really leveraged the experience and subject matter knowledge in developing Cybercheck, our analysts really understand where to look for the information and how to monitor any future activity and fraud typologies.”

“At the end of the day, if your information is contained in the database, then criminals are actively building a profile on you with the intent on undertaking financial fraud.”

Scale, Security and Development

The decade long process of developing such a large database has meant the firm has had to adapt constantly and Head of IT and Product, Benjamin Zwahlen, described it as an “evolution” and “a huge learning experience for all of us.”

Cybercheck initially was aimed at just the UK sector – which loses an estimated £110bn a year to fraud – however, once the operation was underway, Acuris realised it was a much wider issue than originally anticipated.

Acuris Cybercheck has already accumulated over 5 billion records and this amount of data gave the firm a predicament in creating a database that’s easily accessible despite its size.

“The sheer scale was probably the biggest surprise, it’s hard to imagine just how much of our personal data is out there. For this reason, it was critical that we choose the right technologies that we can support something that is already massive and will without doubt continue to grow as more and more personal data is stolen.”

“Artificial Intelligence is a great buzzword”

Artificial intelligence (AI) has developed at an unbelievable pace in the last decade and will continue to provide an extra level of security across many industries, especially payments.

“Trend analysis is just one example of how AI has positively impacted cybersecurity. The concept of developing a model to recognise specific patterns in the fraud data means it’s possible to understand how fraudsters exploit stolen identities and become better at proactively detecting it,” said Zwahlen.

“It’s a game of cat and mouse. We’re always going to be behind the criminals, trying to find ways to catch up with them, and they are always going to be coming up with new, more creative ways of getting their hands on someone else’s money. We’re in the business of enabling humans and machines to work together to keep that gap as small as possible.”

Zwahlen is under no misconception of the positives of AI, however he believes that some look at it as a “magical solution” and forget the importance of human input in creating the AI to detect patterns.

“The thing is you, the human, have to train the AI to spot the pattern and then put it into a more real-time process which is where it gets interesting in terms of payment fraud detection,” explained Zwahlen.

“For example, artificial intelligence can be trained to “understand” what a person’s normal spending pattern looks like and when there is an anomaly it can quickly pick it up and inform you of potential criminal activity.”

For teams to successfully implement AI technologies there is a need for experts to train the AI, run it, watch its outputs, analyse the results and develop it further.

This will require companies to hire staff already trained to do so or have existing team members to learn more extensive cybersecurity-related skills.

Zwahlen believes that AI will not replace people but instead provide opportunities for firms to expand their workforce skill sets with new tools

He concludes: “Artificial intelligence is a great buzzword in the industry right now, but it really is more making sure it is being focused and trained in the right way.”

“I absolutely do believe in it having a positive impact on cybersecurity, but overall people need to realise it isn’t going to save the day unless we, ourselves, continue to improve our online habits and become more aware of what we share online!”