There is a war waging in the unseen corners of the Dark Web. On one side are criminals intent on selling stolen credit cards, Social Security numbers, online bank passwords, and passports. On the other side are security and fraud professionals creating solutions to predict criminal maneuvers before they happen. At the center of all of this activity are companies and governments being impacted every day.

The threat is real, and growing. The FBI says cyber criminals are using international borders and the protection of the Dark Web to sow their criminal activities. “Like farmers who plant crops to be sold in grocery stores, hackers plant malware to harvest stolen information that’s taken to the marketplace to sell,” says former Secret Service investigator Mark Lanterman. He’s now the CTO at Computer Forensic Services, where he monitors those activities. “The Department of Justice estimates that the Dark Web is responsible for 85 percent of stolen credit card numbers,” Lanterman says. “They have created the for stolen credit card numbers.” (E-Commerce, Retail Security and the Dark Web, Boardroom Events Blog, August 25, 2016 )

The good news for merchants and consumers is that First Data is helping to turning the tide against cybercrime advances in artificial intelligence and machine learning with a new platform called Fraud Detect™. The goal of the platform is three-fold: reduce the merchant’s risk to fraud, increase payment acceptance, and create a better customer experience.

One of the key aspects of the solution is data. Each year, First Data powers trillions of dollars of transactions, meaning that the company has access to enormous amounts of data, and can mine information from that data with the permission of their clients. The solution leverages artificial intelligence and machine learning, coupled with the information mined from the Dark Web and First Data’s professional services, to create a robust look across the whole ecosystem to prevent fraud.

The concept of machine learning itself has been around for decades. Instead of relying on human inputs to make decisions, machines “learn” patterns on their own. The more data, the better the result and the faster the machine learns. Last year, First Data handled 88 billion transactions. You don’t have to do the math to see that means it has a lot of data to analyze.

Merchants and financial institutions are extending their reach well beyond the point of sale. We are living in a world where connected commerce is becoming more important to the ways companies and customers interact. Whether it is at the pump, in the car, on mobile, online, or in-store, businesses are looking to deliver solutions that make it easier for consumers to buy.

With the emergence of universal commerce, customers, and more importantly, potential customers, can be in any physical location, but they share the commonality of being connected through app-driven mobile devices, connected cars, social media platforms, and other means. Merchants are desperate to tap into those connected markets. But they are looking for a partner who can help them provide customers with unique buying experiences, while protecting themselves from fraud.

Each time a customer makes an electronic purchase, a series of analytics kick in to rate transactions in real time. The system takes a macro look through the data available to First Data’s billions of transactions to examine whether it is fraudulent or not.

According to Ajay Guru, VP, Head of Merchant Fraud Solutions for First Data, in beta tests, the platform has been able to significantly reduce fraudulent activity before the transaction takes place. “What you’re seeing is holistic integration with First Data, our device authentication, and most importantly, our professional services, which are able to give the support needed to help stop fraud before it happens.”

(C) 2017 First Data Corporation. All Rights Reserved.