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This is when holiday online shopping fraud is highest (it’s just two days)

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They’re waiting to pounce.


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The madness has already started, hasn’t it?

Christmas is in the air and Thanksgiving hasn’t yet reared its familiar, familial head.

Yet retailers are already pestering us with online enticements for things we don’t need and neither do the people for whom we’re buying the gifts.

But this is America. It’s not about need; it’s about excitement.

For online retailers — which is almost everyone these days, surely — the holidays also signify the excitement of increased fraud.

When trade volumes go up, so do attempts at naked theft.

That’s what you’d expect, at least.

Yet I’m currently bathing in a bracing report that suggests online fraud during the holidays isn’t quite what one might imagine.

Riskified — a “payments and fraud-prevention solutions provider,” because “payments and fraud-prevention problems provider” isn’t a good business — took a look at tens of millions of online transactions performed by its clients.

Then it dutifully presented its conclusions in a report enticingly entitled Unwrapping Holiday Fraud.

And peculiar conclusions they are.

First, Riskified insists there’s no such thing as the holiday season. Instead, it identified six distinct seasons within the holiday period.

You’ve missed the first one. It was between Oct. 24 to Oct. 31.

Electronics purchases, for example, show a considerable spike in this period. Then there’s this delightful nugget: “Merchants across all industries can expect to see a revenue spike, up to 30% higher than non-season averages during the last week of October, save for Halloween, when sales are actually slower.”

These shoppers are, apparently, the real planners.

The next little season is Nov. 1 to Nov. 22.

This is a blissful period because it includes China’s Singles Day on Nov. 11, as well as Amazon and eBay’s presales.

A glorious essence from this period, according to Riskified: “Shoppers are spending more at this point in the holiday season than in any other holiday sub-season, especially on physical goods. So, it’s important to note that higher value orders, although sometimes regarded as riskier, are safe and common during this time of the year. Towards the end of this sub-season, as merchants begin to roll out early Cyber Week deals, self-gifters and deal seekers join the mix.”

Cyber Weekend, Nov. 23 to Nov. 27, is the third season. Who are the biggest shoppers? Why, those self-gifters. Perhaps they need psychological bolstering before Thanksgiving.

Then there’s Nov. 28 to Dec. 23. This is what Riskified identifies as Pre-Christmas. It’s all about gift-givers. Says the company: “It’s the holiday sub-season with the lowest rate of international shipping. This, however, doesn’t mean there are fewer international customers: their volume is still about 30% higher than average, they just tend to ‘get lost’ amongst the huge influx of domestic shoppers.”

The more I read, the more I found myself learning a lot about humanity.

Season number 5 is Dec. 24 to Dec. 25. These are the panicked buyers who know they must buy digital goods, such as digital gift cards, those especially thoughtful gifts.

Finally, there’s Dec. 26 to Dec. 31. This is the time where everyone is looking for a bargain because everyone knows retailers are trying to get rid of inventory.

Which leads us to the other delightful aspect of humanity: Fraud.

Here’s one sentence from the report that rendered me oddly twitchy. Referred to the six seasons as a whole, Riskified concluded: “The rate of fraud attempts remains on par with non-season averages, but the increased volume of sales means there’s an increase in the volume of fraud attempts, as well.”

In essence, then, all these holiday mini-seasons don’t seem to attract fraudsters in unusual numbers.

Riskified suggests retailers should consider that a higher volume of international orders in the earlier periods don’t necessarily suggest a higher rate of fraud either. They’re just people who have friends and relatives in other countries.

Moreover, in the Nov. 1 to Nov. 22 period shoppers are spending more. Says the report: “It’s important to note that higher value orders, although sometimes regarded as riskier, are safe and common during this time of the year.”

So when do the fraudsters really weigh in? Other than all the time, that is.

It seems the rate of online shopping fraud attempts is highest in the tiny window of Dec. 24 to Dec. 25. This is principally, says Riskified, because the volume of legitimate shoppers has shrunk. Yes, the fraudsters don’t take days off. Not even for Christmas.

Their methods, though, are fascinating. Psychologically, that is: “Amongst these legitimate customers hide the fraudsters who focus on phone and chat orders — any order method that requires human assistance, as fraudsters know that customer service teams are exhausted so late in the holiday season.”

They pounce on the tired and huddled online customer service people who just want it all to stop.

The report does add that digital goods fraud is highest in the Dec. 26 to Dec. 31 period. Could this be because the fraudsters are so busy doing their jobs that they’ve forgotten to get their loved ones’ gifts?

But what, I hear you cry, about mobile apps? Aren’t they trouble?

Not so much, according to this report. At least, not so much during the holidays: “Mobile apps, a relatively riskier segment throughout most of the year, prove to be very popular with legitimate shoppers during the holiday season. Throughout all sub-seasons, mobile app orders typically experience 70% fewer fraud attempts than the non-season average, putting them on par with desktop orders.”

Though this report has some oddly reassuring conclusions, I’m still suspicious. It’s as well to be careful out there if you’re an online retailer and extra-careful at this time of year. 

For many retailers, this period signifies a major element of their revenue.

If you’re a retailer, you don’t want to mess up that revenue. You’ve got your own gifts to buy and people always expect you to get them something nice.

After all, you’re a retailer. You get a discount, right?



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Key Criteria for Evaluating Security Information and Event Management Solutions (SIEM)

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Security Information and Event Management (SIEM) solutions consolidate multiple security data streams under a single roof. Initially, SIEM supported early detection of cyberattacks and data breaches by collecting and correlating security event logs. Over time, it evolved into sophisticated systems capable of ingesting huge volumes of data from disparate sources, analyzing data in real time, and gathering additional context from threat intelligence feeds and new sources of security-related data. Next-generation SIEM solutions deliver tight integrations with other security products, advanced analytics, and semi-autonomous incident response.

SIEM solutions can be deployed on-premises, in the cloud, or a mix of the two. Deployment models must be weighed with regard to the environments the SIEM solution will protect. With more and more digital infrastructure and services becoming mission critical to every enterprise, SIEMs must handle higher volumes of data. Vendors and customers are increasingly focused on cloud-based solutions, whether SaaS or cloud-hosted models, for their scalability and flexibility.

The latest developments for SIEM solutions include machine learning capabilities for incident detection, advanced analytics features that include user behavior analytics (UBA), and integrations with other security solutions, such as security orchestration automation and response (SOAR) and endpoint detection and response (EDR) systems. Even though additional capabilities within the SIEM environment are a natural progression, customers are finding it even more difficult to deploy, customize, and operate SIEM solutions.

Other improvements include better user experience and lower time-to-value for new deployments. To achieve this, vendors are working on:

  • Streamlining data onboarding
  • Preloading customizable content—use cases, rulesets, and playbooks
  • Standardizing data formats and labels
  • Mapping incident alerts to common frameworks, such as the MITRE ATT&CK framework

Vendors and service providers are also expanding their offerings beyond managed SIEM solutions to à la carte services, such as content development services and threat hunting-as-a-service.

There is no one-size-fits-all SIEM solution. Each organization will have to evaluate its own requirements and resource constraints to find the right solution. Organizations will weigh factors such as deployment models or integrations with existing applications and security solutions. However, the main decision factor for most customers will revolve around usability, affordability, and return on investment. Fortunately, a wide range of solutions available in the market can almost guarantee a good fit for every customer.

How to Read this Report

This GigaOm report is one of a series of documents that helps IT organizations assess competing solutions in the context of well-defined features and criteria. For a fuller understanding consider reviewing the following reports:

Key Criteria report: A detailed market sector analysis that assesses the impact that key product features and criteria have on top-line solution characteristics—such as scalability, performance, and TCO—that drive purchase decisions.

GigaOm Radar report: A forward-looking analysis that plots the relative value and progression of vendor solutions along multiple axes based on strategy and execution. The Radar report includes a breakdown of each vendor’s offering in the sector.

Solution Profile: An in-depth vendor analysis that builds on the framework developed in the Key Criteria and Radar reports to assess a company’s engagement within a technology sector. This analysis includes forward-looking guidance around both strategy and product.

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Key Criteria for Evaluating Secure Service Access

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Since the inception of large-scale computing, enterprises, organizations, and service providers have protected their digital assets by securing the perimeter of their on-premises data centers. With the advent of cloud computing, the perimeter has dissolved, but—in most cases—the legacy approach to security hasn not. Many corporations still manage the expanded enterprise and remote workforce as an extension of the old headquarters office/branch model serviced by LANs and WANs.

Bolting new security products onto their aging networks increased costs and complexity exponentially, while at the same time severely limiting their ability to meet regulatory compliance mandates, scale elastically, or secure the threat surface of the new any place/any user/any device perimeter.

The result? Patchwork security ill-suited to the demands of the post-COVID distributed enterprise.

Converging networking and security, secure service access (SSA) represents a significant shift in the way organizations consume network security, enabling them to replace multiple security vendors with a single, integrated platform offering full interoperability and end-to-end redundancy. Encompassing secure access service edge (SASE), zero-trust network access (ZTNA), and extended detection and response (XDR), SSA shifts the focus of security consumption from being either data center or edge-centric to being ubiquitous, with an emphasis on securing services irrespective of user identity or resources accessed.

This GigaOm Key Criteria report outlines critical criteria and evaluation metrics for selecting an SSA solution. The corresponding GigaOm Radar Report provides an overview of notable SSA vendors and their offerings available today. Together, these reports are designed to help educate decision-makers, making them aware of various approaches and vendors that are meeting the challenges of the distributed enterprise in the post-pandemic era.

How to Read this Report

This GigaOm report is one of a series of documents that helps IT organizations assess competing solutions in the context of well-defined features and criteria. For a fuller understanding consider reviewing the following reports:

Key Criteria report: A detailed market sector analysis that assesses the impact that key product features and criteria have on top-line solution characteristics—such as scalability, performance, and TCO—that drive purchase decisions.

GigaOm Radar report: A forward-looking analysis that plots the relative value and progression of vendor solutions along multiple axes based on strategy and execution. The Radar report includes a breakdown of each vendor’s offering in the sector.

Solution Profile: An in-depth vendor analysis that builds on the framework developed in the Key Criteria and Radar reports to assess a company’s engagement within a technology sector. This analysis includes forward-looking guidance around both strategy and product.

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Security

Key Criteria for Evaluating Edge Platforms

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Edge platforms leverage distributed infrastructure to deliver content, computing, and security closer to end devices, offloading networks and improving performance. We define edge platforms as the solutions capable of providing end users with millisecond access to processing power, media files, storage, secure connectivity, and related “cloud-like” services.

The key benefit of edge platforms is bringing websites, applications, media, security, and a multitude of virtual infrastructures and services closer to end devices compared to public or private cloud locations.

The need for content proximity started to become more evident in the early 2000s as the web evolved from a read-only service to a read-write experience, and users worldwide began both consuming and creating content. Today, this is even more important, as live and on-demand video streaming at very high resolutions cannot be sustained from a single central location. Content delivery networks (CDNs) helped host these types of media at the edge, and the associated network optimization methods allowed them to provide these new demanding services.

As we moved into the early 2010s, we experienced the rapid cloudification of traditional infrastructure. Roughly speaking, cloud computing takes a server from a user’s office, puts it in a faraway data center, and allows it to be used across the internet. Cloud providers manage the underlying hardware and provide it as a service, allowing users to provision their own virtual infrastructure. There are many operational benefits, but at least one unavoidable downside: the increase in latency. This is especially true in this dawning age of distributed enterprises for which there is not just a single office to optimize. Instead, “the office” is now anywhere and everywhere employees happen to be.

Even so, this centralized, cloud-based compute methodology works very well for most enterprise applications, as long as there is no critical sensitivity to delay. But what about use cases that cannot tolerate latency? Think industrial monitoring and control, real-time machine learning, autonomous vehicles, augmented reality, and gaming. If a cloud data center is a few hundred or even thousands of miles away, the physical limitations of sending an optical or electrical pulse through a cable mean there are no options to lower the latency. The answer to this is leveraging a distributed infrastructure model, which has traditionally been used by content delivery networks.

As CDNs have brought the internet’s content closer to everyone, CDN providers have positioned themselves in the unique space of owning much of the infrastructure required to bring computing and security closer to users and end devices. With servers close to the topological edge of the network, CDN providers can offer processing power and other “cloud-like” services to end devices with only a few milliseconds latency.

While CDN operators are in the right place at the right time to develop edge platforms, we’ve observed a total of four types of vendors that have been building out relevant—and potentially competing—edge infrastructure. These include traditional CDNs, hyperscale cloud providers, telecommunications companies, and new dedicated edge platform operators, purpose-built for this emerging requirement.

How to Read this Report

This GigaOm report is one of a series of documents that helps IT organizations assess competing solutions in the context of well-defined features and criteria. For a fuller understanding consider reviewing the following reports:

Key Criteria report: A detailed market sector analysis that assesses the impact that key product features and criteria have on top-line solution characteristics—such as scalability, performance, and TCO—that drive purchase decisions.

GigaOm Radar report: A forward-looking analysis that plots the relative value and progression of vendor solutions along multiple axes based on strategy and execution. The Radar report includes a breakdown of each vendor’s offering in the sector.

Vendor Profile: An in-depth vendor analysis that builds on the framework developed in the Key Criteria and Radar reports to assess a company’s engagement within a technology sector. This analysis includes forward-looking guidance around both strategy and product.

Continue Reading

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