MasterCard unveils tool to tackle cyber threat

MasterCard unveils tool to tackle cyber threat

With the huge data breaches at Target and Home Depot fresh in the memory, MasterCard has launched a tool designed to protect against cyber attacks on banks and processors.

Millions of people have seen their card data compromised in major hacks over the last few months, denting consumer confidence and putting security at the centre of the payments debate.

Ajay Bhalla, president, enterprise security solutions, MasterCard, says: "This week at World Retail Congress in Paris I heard first hand from retailers of all sizes how they see the future of payment security. We all know that safety and security is the number one priority for anyone looking to make a payment and that breaches and media headlines can erode trust and confidence."

MasterCard says that its new SafetyNet technology can help address this by making the most of the company's huge global network to identify potential attacks before they start and, in some cases, before banks and processors are even aware of the threat.

SafetyNet is designed to be complementary to issuing banks' own tools, adding a new level of protection. It monitors different channels and geographies, and provides the most appropriate level of support for each market and partner business, by using sophisticated algorithms, claims MasterCard.

The scale of the cyber threat is highlighted by a new PwC report which shows that the number of reported information security incidents on organisations around the world rose by nearly 50% last year to 42.8 million.

The associated costs of managing and mitigating breaches also rose significantly. Yet budgets to deal with the threat in 2014 were actually down four per cent on the previous year.

Like MasterCard, Microsoft is taking new steps to tackle the threat to financial services firms. At Sibos in Boston this week, the tech giant revealed details of a partnership with the Financial Services Information Sharing and Analysis Center (FS-ISAC).

In a pilot programme, Microsoft will share cyber-threat intelligence with the FS-ISAC, giving the centre access to near real-time information on known malware infections affecting more than 67 million unique IP addresses.

Cyber security was a central theme of the Sibos conference. Charles Blauner, global head, information security at Citi revealed that the bank is attacked 10 million times a month. Participants on a panel agreed that banks are at "war" with the crooks and, James Kaplan from Mckinsey warned: "This is not a war we will win anytime in the near future".

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