Crime & Justice

Visa invests billions to fight increasingly sophisticated cybercrime

Miami, Apr 29 (EFE).- Cybercriminals are becoming increasingly sophisticated and are looking for more ambitious targets in people, companies and institutions, warned the global chief risk officer of payment technology company Visa, Paul Fabara, who says investing in technology is a way to always be one step ahead of thieves.

The pandemic caused millions of people and businesses to start using e-commerce, increasing the risk of fraud and cybercrime, and making it necessary to invest in state-of-the-art security for financial transactions.

“Most criminals are much more sophisticated in terms of tools, capabilities and knowledge. And they are moving into denial-of-service attacks, or DoS, and more specifically ransomware, Fabara said in an interview with Efe.

For example, cybercrime attacks in Argentina increased by 60 percent in 2020, the first year of the pandemic, according to data from the Argentine Association for the Fight Against Cybercrime, and in Spain 28 percent of internet users suffered a serious cybersecurity incident in the first half of 2021, according to a study by ObservaCiber.

To reduce the risk of fraud and cybercrime, Visa has invested more than $9 billion over the past five years and has a team of more than 1,000 people continuously monitoring what is happening in the online payments ecosystem.


The multinational technology company executive recognizes that with the arrival of millions of new clients, threats have increased and he does not believe that they will “diminish soon,” but rather thieves have access to the “same technology” as the big firms in the sector.

For this reason, he believes it is important to be “very humble” and be aware that they cannot “rest on their laurels” because thieves are “getting better and better and we have to keep our guard up at all times”, although he does not foresee an increase in the percentage of crimes in relation to transactions.

“I think thieves will continue to be very active in the e-commerce space and many of them over time, I think, will move on to bigger crimes,” he said.

The advent of quantum computing in the sector will make everything “much more interesting,” because if an ordinary computer could take 92 years to crack an eight-character code, with the new technology that number is “drastically reduced,” he said.

But he warned that apart from companies and institutions many cybercriminals could again set their sights on individuals, who could also become victims of data hijacking, so the general population must protect itself.


Fabara, who had worked at American Express and Barclays prior to joining Visa in 2019, highlighted that the barriers to thwarting fraud and cybercrime attacks exist and work.

In addition to their team of more than a thousand people, who monitor, scan and check systems for suspicious activity and vulnerabilities, Visa has invested $500 million in artificial intelligence to detect fraud through their vast database of billions of transactions.

They have added more “layers” of security and customer data is protected wherever transactions are made by means of token-based authentication, which reduces the risk of identity theft.

For the Ecuadorian-born executive, education in this area is also important and he was pleased that, at the same time as there was a shift to e-commerce, the pandemic also “dramatically” accelerated people’s need and interest in learning, compressing five years into a few months.

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