Deb Radcliff, the technology industry's first cybercrime beat reporter and former director of the SANS Institute's Analyst Program, has joined Bolster as the company's evangelist. In this Q&A with Deb, we discuss what makes Bolster so unique and why their technology is critical to combat fraud and protect brand identities.
Congrats on the join, Deb. Why Bolster, why now?
That’s a good question, especially since I’ve spent most of my career on “the other side” of vendors as a journalist and analyst. Changes in the world, starting with COVID-19, have made me rethink how technology is going to be used as we move farther into an online world. Innovation will be critical for supporting what I think will be new forms of eCommerce as the brick and mortar world slips away. Bolster’s goals are similar to the goals I’ve had all my career: Protecting consumers from online fraud and scams, one of the biggest frauds being phishing.
What are you looking forward to in your new role? What are your big goals in the first 90 days?
I’m looking forward to showing businesses how fast their brands can be copied and replicated across thousands of sites on the web, and how just one instance of online fraud can quickly end relationships with repeat customers. I’d also like to explain the difficulties involved in taking down these sites, and what Bolster does to speed that process up and stop frauds even before they happen.
Tell me about the dangers of fraud in eCommerce. How can that damage a business?
eCommerce fraud can impact the business in many ways, all of which affect the bottom line. The obvious one is loss of customer confidence if their brands are used in phishing, theft and financial crimes against their customers. Many reports cite that this can happen the first time a customer is defrauded under what they think is their trusted brand (but is fake). Now multiply this by 2,000 fraud sites taking aim at a brand’s customers and consider the number of customers lost if 100 customers are defrauded at each site. This can literally happen in a matter of minutes as all sites spin up simultaneously, which is common. The other issue is loss of sales, for example in the case of counterfeit goods being sold under a brand, goods that could have drawn direct revenue to the real brand. And finally, the most dangerous issue in my opinion is knockoff pharmaceuticals under trusted pharmacy and drug making brands. Most of these scammers are just out to steal money and never send anything to their victims. But some do sell fake drugs that could physically harm customers.
How can Bolster combat fraud and protect brand identities? What technologies make Bolster different from the rest?
This company is the first I’ve seen to apply more than web crawlers searching for keywords and a few indicators to find bad sites. We are the only company to fully automate the whole process from detection to takedown while providing rich threat intelligence. To automate this process, we heavily utilize deep learning and computer vision in real time (< 100 ms) which no one is able to accomplish that I’m aware of. As a result of their deep analysis, which uses more than 125 attributes to analyze for fraud, they are able to prove criminality and take down sites in a matter of minutes through API connections to most of the major registrars and hosting providers. Fast detection and takedown are key to protecting customers and the customer relationship. I also like that the platform is full-circle: New intelligence on criminal sites are added to a block list. So if a site tries to go back online, it’s already blocked because from doing so again.
What type of companies should use Bolster and why?
Back to why I started this role! Any company or agency that is customer-facing on the web needs a platform like Bolster. Top brands already know to protect their brands, and many are spending too much time and money reinventing the process that Bolster has fully automated. Events are pushing thousands of fraud and phishing sites to take advantage of customers flocking to new platforms and forms of commerce, which is why Zoom recently joined Bolster as a customer. Bolster users will not need a team of legal and domain experts (and weeks of time) to take bad sites down, and they have the rich intelligence at their fingertips if they want to utilize it in their larger threat hunting programs.
Where can companies go to get more information about Bolster?