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Don’t forget fraud whilst fighting Corona – a warning from the experts

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The halcyon days of #unofficialMWC2020 now seem but a distant memory in the wake of such a dreadfully traumatic series of recent worldwide events. However, it has been encouraging to hear some quite positive reports from a wide range of providers across our industry – and where there is success, there is inevitably fraud.

Perhaps unsurprisingly in the current climate there’s been a major focus across the board on digital commerce. That means more opportunities to deploy engagement and billing technologies to support soaring demand for a range of telemedia VAS and content propositions.

At the time of writing, games platforms are busier than ever, radio competitions have never been more popular, help line traffic is rocketing and call centres are maxed out. Spare a thought too for those poor singles that are simply looking for love in these difficult times. Early reports suggest that in order to tackle the challenges of social distancing many (primarily male) dating subscribers are migrating across to more adult services and really ramping up their premium messaging activities.

So, with business “taking care of itself”, your only concern needs to be the health and wellbeing of your families, friends and colleagues – right? Well not quite, because as any business increases its digital exposure [to hit bigger revenue targets]and investment shifts towards even more digital channels, they become more exposed to digital threats.

So, we asked Geoffrey Cleaves, Head of Secure-D at Upstream,  for his views on the current situation and he concurred that we are of course relatively “lucky” to work in the digital world and have the luxury of discussing trends and opportunities. Long a driver of growth, the digital economy may now be the salvation of the economy.

“I predict an even increased importance of digital and telemedia industries, with more and more individuals attempting to get in the business. Either that or the hand sanitiser business,” he says.

He adds: “At Upstream we carry on supporting the digital growth of our mobile operator customers keeping people connected, secure and informed. Bridging the digital divide has taken on new meaning since the start of this outbreak and Upstream is pressing on to help mobile operators in connectivity, content, security and UX.”

What are the key fraud threats?

Whilst the majority of the world is pulling together, there are certainly some darker forces acting to make a profit from the current situation.

“At Secure-D we’ve seen a sharp increase in bad actors publishing ‘leisure’ apps on the Google Play Store which trick users into subscribing for premium services,” says Cleaves. “The types of apps that are springing up are ones that offer a way for people to pass the time stuck at home. For examples, funny videos or puzzle games.”

Cleaves also outlines some examples of malicious apps to watch out for including; Atlas BoxPuzzle Addict and Video Lounge. Also beware of apk package names starting with com.xam. Android apps are identified by their package name, which are usually three dot separated words such as com.android.clock. Many of the malware apps have a package name that begins with com.xam.

Internet traffic in emerging markets

Over the past 30 days internet traffic has increased by 6% in Africa and decrease by 5% in South East Asia, especially peaks in Thailand relating to COVID-19 news sites. Whilst It’s hard to make a direct correlation, the theory is that that SE Asia is generally emerging while Africa is generally entering lockdown, Brazil is largely flat. Being in lockdown means prepaid customers will find it difficult to get out the front door to top up their data bundles. In the meantime, malware could be eating into those data bundles.

Cleaves continues: “I suspect we may see a drop in mobile internet traffic (and successful billing attempts) in predominantly prepaid markets while lockdowns are in force.”

Enter solutions like ConnectU by Vodacom in South Africa that allow users to access free content aimed at social development offering a variety of essential services (education, health advice, news). This is a zero-rated portal supported by our platform zero-D”.

So, there you have it – while the telemedia industry might well be safe enough, please continue to avoid both personal and commercial infections as you promote more premium digital applications into a relatively healthy digital marketplace.

>>> Don’t miss out on the latest news, analysis and key insider views from around the industry via the Telemedia Newsletter.   Totally free and published every Thursday – Sign up for your copy TODAY

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