By Robert Hackett and Adam Lashinsky
March 22, 2018

I write today on the subject of fraud. It’s a hearty perennial. No doubt fraud has been raising blood pressure since some no-good caveman slipped putrid buffalo meat to his neighbor in place of the day’s fresh kill.

As with many things progress-related, the situation is worsening. Consider this trenchant report by Erika Fry from Fortune’s Brainstorm Health conference about the medical community’s efforts to simultaneously share and protect patient health information. Medical data is so sensitive, says Scripps Translational Science Institute director Eric Topol, that it goes for five times other types of purloined information on the so-called dark web.

Scamming is morphing for plain-vanilla e-commerce too. Justin Lie, CEO of the Singapore-based anti-fraud company CashShield, says stolen ride-hailing accounts are more valuable now than hacked credit card numbers. They can be sold, he says, for $30 on the dark web, compared with a mere $5 for credit card information. The reason is that the more mature credit card industry has built up controls and methods for combatting fraud. Newfangled online services lag, and “the technology hasn’t caught up,” says Lie.

In the case of health records, Fortune’s Fry reports that blockchain technology may be the answer for security. For online accounts, CashShield is pursuing machine-learning algorithms to thwart the scammers. Humans, it says, can’t keep up.

Where there is fraud there is commercial opportunity to stop it. And technology will lead the way.

Adam Lashinsky


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