Inside RSA's state-of-the-art fraud intelligence command center

RSA’s Anti-Fraud Command Center helps financial services firms stay a step ahead of fraudsters and criminals. The ultimate goal: Someday make it not worth their effort to even try.

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As cybercriminals get better at compromising financial accounts and stealing funds, vendors are beefing up their defensive tools to prevent fraud and abuse. I had an opportunity while I was in Israel to visit RSA’s Anti-Fraud Command Center (AFCC), the nerve center of a division that is devoted to protecting consumers' financial records and funds. The AFCC is an example of what a state-of-the-art web threat and fraud intelligence operation looks like.

The center began its life in 1999, when it was created by a company called Cyota. RSA bought Cyota in 2005, and RSA in turn was gobbled up by EMC and then Dell two years ago. The center is part of RSA’s consumer division, which has a series of products not intended for consumer use but for defending consumers' endpoints that are targeted for fraud. If you think about phishing attacks or account compromises for banking customers, that will put you in the right frame of mind. The center is located outside of Tel Aviv and has a second facility operating on the Purdue University campus in Indiana that is mostly staffed by students.

How the AFCC works

The idea behind the center is to proactively monitor a bank’s transactions and notify RSA’s banking clients when something is amiss. The best situation is to anticipate fraudulent activity before it has any monetary impact, so that both bank and customer are protected from any eventual harm. The AFCC processes about 100 million transactions a day, and it finds about 0.1 percent of them have potential fraud elements.

About 100 analysts staff three full shifts that work out of the center for monitoring and notification functions. Another several hundred staffers tend to the algorithms and software that is used to screen the various transactions.

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