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93% of Mobile Transactions Blocked as Fraudulent in 2019 – Upstream

Money is becoming more vulnerable to debit card fraud by criminals. Social engineering attacks and phishing are still on an increase. Mobile transactions, fraud has a devastating impact on consumers finances and reputation. A report by Upstream indicated 93% of mobile transactions in 2019 are blocked as fraudulent.

Upstream new report on the state of malware and mobile ad fraud look at the state and workings of mobile ad fraud including insights on five emerging markets: Brazil, Egypt, Indonesia, South Africa and Ethiopia.

The “Invisible Digital Threat” data is based on deployments of The “Invisible Digital Threat” data are based on deployments of Upstream’s Secured full-stack anti-fraud platform that detects and blocks fraudulent mobile transactions mostly originated from ad fraud malware. The platform at the end of 2019 covered 31 mobile operators in 20 countries.

Upstream’s security platform processed 1.71 billion mobile transactions and blocked 1.6 billion of them as fraudulent, a staggering 93 percent of total transactions in the market were examined. It is estimated that, left unchecked these transactions would have cost users $2.1bn in unwanted charges.

Secure-D reported on the suspicious background activity of five very popular Android apps: 4shared, a popular file-sharing app, Vidmate, a video downloader, Weather Forecast a preinstalled app on Alcatel devices, Snaptube, another video and audio app, and ai.type, an on-screen keyboard app indicating scale, in the course of only a few months in 2019. With a total of nearly 700 million downloads, these were or had been at some point available on Google Play. In these five cases alone, Secure-D detected and blocked 353 million suspicious mobile transactions preventing $430 million in fraudulent charges.Chief Executive Officer of Upstream, Dimitris Maniatis, stated, “Mobile ad fraud is a criminal enterprise on a massive scale. Though it may seem that it is only targeted at advertisers, it greatly affects the whole mobile ecosystem. Most importantly it adversely impacts consumers; eating up their data allowance, bringing unwanted charges, messing with the performance of their device, and even targeting and collecting their personal data. It is more than an invisible threat, it is an epidemic, calling for increased mobile security that urgently needs to rise up in the industry’s priority list. Left unchecked, ad fraud will choke mobile advertising, erode trust in operators and lead to higher tariffs for users’’.

Upstream’s report highlights consumers in emerging markets are more vulnerable to digital fraud; they are unaware of the dangers as they often go online for the first time via their mobile devices and data depletion caused by malware has a much greater effect on them due to the high cost of data in their countries. In Africa 1 GB of data costs prepaid mobile subscribers the equivalent of 16 hours of work at minimum wage.

“A key part of successfully tackling mobile fraud is awareness”, explains Maniatis, “something that the whole industry, surprisingly, lacks. With all indicators pointing that its value will grow in the hundreds of billions in the next three years, we cannot afford to remain idle. This is the main reason we steadily and openly share all our findings with the whole community.”

“Mobile ad fraud remains a hidden threat for most consumers. It usually goes undetected and is not high on people’s agendas when choosing apps. However, as the industry delays its response, consumers should take steps to stay safe from mobile ad fraud in 2020. For example, by using anti-malware services like Play Protect, by only downloading from the official Play store after checking reviews carefully and keeping a close check on bills for unwanted subscriptions or charges”, added Maniatis.


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