Old School Method of Uncovering Cybercrime

There are a lot of different payment methods that individuals can use when shopping online. While credit cards, debit cards, and even gift cards are popular with consumers, millions of people worldwide rely on some kind of “escrow-style” payment service. One such company is PayPal, and they work by serving as a layer of protection surrounding your purchases.

This layer of protection means that you give money to PayPal when making an online purchase, rather than sending money directly to the seller. PayPal serves as a go-between, protecting your personal information when providing those funds to the seller, while still offering some measure of quality control and guarantee over the transaction similar to what credit card companies offer.

The company’s worldwide popularity has actually caused them some trouble in keeping up, especially during heavy traffic times like last year’s Cyber Monday. On that single shopping day, PayPal was engaged in nearly $25,000 worth of transactions every single second. It was so much traffic, in fact, that their website crashed and a small number of consumers were unable to use the service.

PayPal took a lesson from that experience in preparing for this year’s record-setting Cyber Monday shopping figures, as well as from other malicious events like the October DDoS attack perpetrated by hackers. PayPal and several other major websites were effectively shut down in certain parts of the US for a significant portion of a workday through the intentional overload the hackers caused.

How does PayPal handle that volume of consumer interaction while still putting cybersecurity at the forefront of its operations? The answer might be surprising in its “old school” methodology. PayPal transactions are monitored through human oversight rather than just technology. While a computer still scans the transactions for any sign of something out of the ordinary, it then sends an alert to an employee whose job is to investigate the alerts and look for unusual activity. The computer basically serves as a safety net to catch any signs of scams, fraud, or other cybercrimes, and then a human takes over to make sure everything is conducted correctly and safely.

Of course, whether human or computer, this type of oversight and protection can’t possibly catch everything due to the large number of transactions. That’s why it’s still up to consumers to look over their account statements carefully for any sign of something strange, and to report any suspicious activity as soon as it’s noted.

As always, anyone who believes their identity has been stolen or their personal data has been compromised is invited to connect with the ITRC through our 24-hour toll-free call center at (888) 400-5530, or on-the-go with the new IDTheftHelp app for iOS and Android.

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