Credits: Viktor Kayed

In a world where ever-increasing rates of crime and innovative criminals is the new normal, companies might think that considerable threats automatically means looking for drastic measures expressed in sophisticated defences. 

But in some cases, the solution might be found right under their nose, with a simple but proven strategy being more than enough to thwart today’s cyber criminals. Frank Abagnale utilised his keynote at the SBC Summit Barcelona to highlight the importance of education. 

Over the past forty years, Abagnale has  lectured to, and consulted with, hundreds of financial institutions, corporations and governments. The American was also the subject and author of the acclaimed Hollywood film, Catch me if you can. 

During his keynote, he emphasised his belief that education is the most powerful tool when it comes to fighting crime – enabling users and potential victims to have an understanding of the process of crime can be a significant step in minimising their vulnerability to fraud. 

Education was one of the three key pillars of fighting cybercrime that Abagnale shone a light upon, alongside prevention and verification. 

The threat of data warehouses was something that Abagnale highlighted, with them amassing significant amounts of information three to four years prior to capitalising on it. 

It’s not solely the education of consumers that is pivotal, but also the competence and education within companies. According to Abagnale, ‘every breach occurs because of the shortcomings of someone at a company, hackers do not cause breaches, but people do’. 

And even as the dust settles on the pandemic and its impacts on global economies and consumer habits, the rise of identity theft continues to accelerate. According to Abanagnale, this trend isn’t going anywhere and simply can’t be ignored. 

In terms of the demographics of consumers having their identity stolen, Abagnale revealed that children have become a key target for fraudsters. He detailed that this has been fuelled by the evolution of technology, which ‘breeds crime, it always has and always will’.

Technology has also evolved communication, which has had a widespread impact on fraud and particularly social engineering, which continues to be a key asset for fraudsters. 

Abagnale warned that there has never been a technology, not even AI, that can halt social engineering, education is the only tool that can slow it down and provide a valuable tool to fighting it. 

He also emphasised that because of the rush to bring new technologies to market, they often fall short in terms of security from cybercrime. A further factor that fuelled the bewilderment of Abagnale was the longstanding nature of passwords, a security authentication that the American believes is ridiculously out of date, especially compared to the passkey, which is growing further into mainstream adoption. 

Abagnale also made the bold prediction that passwords will no longer be utilised as an asset for security within the next few years, an evolution that he praised as being long overdue. 

He was also keen to emphasise the importance of combating cybercrime, not just because of the loss to consumers, but also due to the money being garnered from these crimes funding evil.