NEWS17 March 2022

No easy cure for cyberfraud

Impact 2022 News Technology UK

UK – There is no “silver bullet” to eradicate cyberfraud and research companies need to be more flexible with their tactics to prevent surveys being infiltrated, the Market Research Society’s Impact 2022 conference has heard.

Lisa Wilding-Brown Innovatemr_crop

Lisa Wilding-Brown (pictured), chief executive at InnovateMR, said that cyberfraud was a major issue that infiltrated every survey provider, and the research industry needed to be more clever in its attempts to stop fraudsters.

“There is no silver bullet to eradicate survey fraud,” she said. “I strongly believe it is time for our industry to have a major wake-up call. We need to stop telling ourselves there is a magic fix for this complex and dynamic issue.

“In my testing over the years, I have seen sample providers large and small deal with this problem. It isn’t a matter of if, but a matter of when you encounter an issue with sample quality. The internet is a very dynamic and messy place, and the tactics leveraged by cyberfraudsters continue to morph or change, creating a very reactionary position for the insights industry.”

Fraudsters were becoming more sophisticated, said Wilding-Brown, and were using bots that were significantly more humanistic, making them far more difficult to catch.

“In today’s world, bots cleverly emulate human behaviour much more closely,” she explained. “They avoid patterns in their data, they use real personal (albeit stolen) information and multiple devices to throw us off their trail. This makes the job of sample providers and researchers that much more challenging.”

She said that transparent survey and sample providers would accept that – in common with all of their peers – they have been infiltrated previously, and that research firms should instead look to work with those companies that were able to adapt to new fraud tactics.

“Let’s stop thinking that firing a sample provider is the answer,” Wilding-Brown added. “I promise you that virtually every provider of sample in our ecosystem has first-hand experience with this problem. Putting businesses in the penalty box won’t eradicate your problems, nor will it stop the significant risks on data quality.

“If we fail to be as dynamic and unpredictable as the fraudsters, we will continue to be extremely vulnerable. What we need to do as an industry is update our tactics in the same fashion and cadence as anti-virus software providers, who regularly update their software to counter new and emerging computer viruses.”