ThreatMetrix: Mobile buying less risky than desktop this holiday season

ThreatMetrix desktop v mobile risky transactions

Cybercrime prevention solution provider ThreatMetrix has released their assessment of the risk levels associated with online commerce transactions during the 2011 holiday season, and finds on average mobile transactions were less risky overall than transactions conducted from desktop (or notebook) computers. From businesses’ point of view, this means that mobile transactions might be less chancy than traditional online sales; for consumers, it might mean that businesses increasingly try to shift online purchasing to mobile platforms as a way to reduce their risk.

ThreatMetrix doesn’t go into any detail about what makes a transaction qualify as “risky,” “somewhat risky,” or “very risky,” but the overall pattern for December 2011 is consistent across both mobile and desktop platforms, with a significant uptick in the number of potentially-fraudulent transactions leading up to and immediately following Christmas Day. Nonetheless, the findings are likely to be particularly interesting to businesses considering how to augment their e-commerce strategies—especially since online holiday spending is steadily increasing. (For instance, comScore reported online holiday spending was up 15 percent in 2011 to over $35 billion.)

“Online commerce is becoming a preferred channel, as its convenience and oftentimes competitive pricing are appealing factors to today’s consumers,” said ThreatMetrix’s chief product officer Alisdair Faulkner, in a statement. “As businesses continue to build a cross-channel presence, it’s essential they understand the inner workings of the fraud network to effectively prevent cybercrime.”

The “fraud network” noted by Faulkner refers to professional networks that specialize in online fraud, spanning spam, online gaming, social networking, e-commerce, and online banking. Where online fraud used to be dominated by individuals and small groups, ThreatMetrix maintains a major threat now is networked groups of criminals, each specializing in a different phase or step of committing online fraud, whether it be setting up fake social networking accounts, infecting vulnerable PCs, testing stolen credit card data, and placing bogus online orders for goods that are then resold. And they may be racking up more per theft: CyberSource’s 2011 Fraud Report puts total losses from online fraud totaling $3.4 billion for 2011, which is the first time there’s been an uptick in revenue lost to fraud since 2004. However, overall, CyberSource found online fraud was down from 0.9 percent of orders in 2010 compared to 0.6 percent in 2011.

The comparative safely—or, at least “less risk”—associated with mobile commerce might be a temporary phenomena, however. Where significant online commerce has been conducted via traditional Web browsers for the better part of two decades, the mobile commerce world is comparatively new territory for fraudsters. Where vendor and carrier lock-in may be effective tools for dissuading simplistic types of fraud—or at least being able to associate it with individual mobile users—there’s nothing about a mobile Web browser or app that makes it magically less able to (say) send stolen credit card information to businesses. It’s also possible mobile commerce just hasn’t been a big enough target for fraudsters to seriously target: even with the 2011 holiday season seeming a watershed for placing orders via tablets and smartphones, IBM found mobile devices still only accounted for 14.6 percent of all online commerce sessions.

Computing

OLED's return and a phalanx of Nvidia-powered notebooks defined laptops at CES

CES 2019 offered a lot of surprises and news from some of the biggest names in laptop makers. Here are the major themes in laptops from this year's show.
Home Theater

Want to mirror your smartphone or tablet onto your TV? Here's how

A vast arsenal of devices exists to allow sending anything on your mobile device to your TV. Our in-depth guide shows you how to mirror content from your smartphone or tablet to the big screen from virtually any device available.
Smart Home

GHSP makes a (back)splash with its touchscreen concept kitchen

One of the coolest concept kitchens from CES 2019 came from GHSP. It created a backsplash entirely made of touchscreens. That means the control panel for your kitchen is accessible no matter where you are.
Deals

Best tax software deals from TurboTax, H&R Block, and more

Do you dread doing your taxes? Luckily for you, there are plenty of tax software options available to guide you through the process. And guess what? Some of them are even on sale today! Check out deals from TurboTax, H&R Block, and…
Social Media

Spice up your Instagram videos by adding your top tunes to the soundtrack

Have you ever taken a beautiful video, only to have it ruined by some jerk in the background yelling curse words? Here's a list of apps you can use to add your own music to Instagram posts as well as your Story.
Home Theater

Dolby’s secret recording studio app may soon exit stealth mode

In secret testing since June, Dolby's stealth recording and social network app may soon be ready to make an appearance. Dolby 234 blends unique noise-canceling tech with Instagram-like audio filters.
Mobile

5G phones make a lot of promises. Here’s what to really expect

There has been a lot of marketing copy expounding the potential benefits of 5G networks, but a lot less on the practical implications of 5G smartphones. There's a reason for that.
Business

Google is buying mysterious smartwatch tech from The Fossil Group for $40 million

Google is about to step up its smartwatch game. The company has agreed to buy an unnamed smartwatch technology from The Fossil Group for a hefty $40 million. Considering the acquisition, it's clear Google is serious about smartwatches.
Mobile

Here’s how to take a screenshot on an iPad, step by step

The ability to capture screenshots may not be the iPad's most glamorous feature, but it's one of its most useful. Here's a step-by-step guide on how to take a screenshot on an iPad, whether it's an iPad Pro from 2018 or an older iPad model.
Home Theater

Here are some common AirPods problems, and how to fix them

Apple’s AirPods are among the best fully wireless earbuds we’ve seen, but they’re not perfect. If you’re having trouble, take a look at our guide to the most common problems and what you can do to fix them.
Social Media

Here’s how to save someone’s Instagram Story to your phone

Curious about how to save someone's Instagram Story to your phone? Lucky for you, it can be done -- but it does take a few extra steps. Here's what you need to know to save Instagram Stories on both iOS and Android.
Wearables

Lack of regulation means wearables aren’t held accountable for health claims

As fitness trackers become more like health monitors, some physicians are concerned they can lead to over-diagnosis of non-existent problems. It’s already happening with wearable baby monitors.
Mobile

Here’s how to download podcasts and listen to them on Android or iOS

Podcasts have become a cultural staple. Here's how to download podcasts and listen to them on your Android or iOS device, and which apps to use if you're looking to get the most out of the format.
Business

Apple banned from distributing some iPhone models in Germany

Apple is following the FTC's lead and has sued Qualcomm for a massive $1 billion in the U.S., $145 million in China, and also in the U.K., claiming the company charged onerous royalties for its patented tech.