With accelerated and expanded digitalization presenting vast opportunities for cybercriminals, bots are the ideal tool to satisfy criminal ambitions with.

In the first half of 2021, the volume of bot attacks in a specific group of networks grew 41% year-on-year, while non-bot human-initiated attacks fell by 29%.

Based on cybercrime attacks detected by the LexisNexis Digital Identity Network from Jan to June 2021, involving analyses of consumer interactions in new account creations, logins, payments and non-core transactions such as password resets and transfers, this finding of the cybercrime report is one of a few other observations. 

Geographical shifts in attack volume were observed across transactions. Based on bot IP addresses, Mexico joins Brazil on the Top 10 list of largest originators of bot attacks by volume, further establishing Latin America (LATAM) as a hotspot for both automated and human-initiated attacks.

Attack rates originating from North America and Europe, Middle East and Africa (EMEA) have historically been similar and lower than that from other regions. However, since March 2021, North America had recorded higher daily attack rates that now exceed those in EMEA, marking a sustained change in cybercriminal behavior in the US and Canada.

Other H1 2021 findings

Bearing in mind that the following apply only to the Digital Identity Network, here are other findings reported by LexisNexis:

  • Bot attacks increased globally: All regions recorded growth in bot volume in comparison to the same period last year. This was most marked in the Asia Pacific and LATAM regions, with EMEA experiencing the smallest growth.
  • Industry innovations altered risk profiles: The online payment market continues to proliferate and diversify. Buy Now Pay Later services and other payment schemes catering to online spending are also creating new avenues of attack for cybercriminals.
  • Financial services institutions deployed new methods to track money mules: Advances in beneficiary intelligence within the Digital Identity Network are making it less complicated for banks and other payment service providers to track payment transfers involved in money mule activity. This includes when the beneficiary tries to hide its tracks by splitting the initial payment and routing it via other entities in the payment network.

According to the firm’s Vice President of fraud and identity, Stephen Topliss: “The data confirms cybercriminals’ reliance on automated processes, but also highlights that fraudsters are further establishing sophisticated and expansive networks to conduct fraud.”

Explosive transaction and user growth rates in industry sectors such as virtual banks and (e-commerce) are likely exposing emergent risks for newer businesses as they grab the attention of fraudsters, Topliss said. “The digital businesses that survive and thrive will be those that deploy layered cybercrime prevention solutions as they scale.”