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How does Mastercard leverage AI to address evolving cyber threats and ensure robust cybersecurity protocols?

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In an exclusive interview with Express Computer, Joy Sekhri, VP – Cyber & Intelligence Solutions, Mastercard delves into the transformative role of Artificial Intelligence in the ever-evolving landscape of cybersecurity. With cybercrimes on the rise globally, including a rampant surge in India, where digital payment fraud alone reached INR 276 crore in FY23, Sekhri sheds light on how AI is a crucial ally in the fight against cyber threats. In this discussion, Sekhri unveils Mastercard’s pioneering efforts in leveraging AI to fortify cybersecurity protocols, protect transactions, and stay ahead of the dynamic challenges posed by cybercriminals.

How is AI playing a transformative role in the field of cybersecurity?

Globally, the rate of cybercrimes is rising and India too is facing a rampant rise in cybercrimes- the total amount of fraud in the digital payment category stood at INR 276 crore in FY23. The nature of cybercrimes is evolving, and this changing paradigm of the cybersecurity landscape requires the intervention of advanced technologies such as AI. AI can significantly improve threat detection and response capabilities, while analysing vast amounts of data to identify patterns and anomalies, helping to detect cyber threats in real-time. It can examine data and identify security breaches quickly- reducing the time it takes to respond to cyber threats and resulting in minimised damage caused by cyberattacks and safeguarding sensitive data to organisations. Cybersecurity and AI are increasingly intertwined, and the use of AI has the potential to transform the cybersecurity landscape, globally and locally in India.

In what ways is Mastercard at the forefront of pioneering cybersecurity through technology?

At Mastercard, our efforts go beyond protecting the transaction. We are driving new thinking and new approaches to safeguard an evolving ecosystem — from the physical to the digital to the metaverse, and every interaction in between. Our approach to security gives our customers and partners deeper visibility into cyber risk and greater adaptability and resilience, protecting their systems through the latest technology, and delivering peace of mind to the people and businesses they serve while protecting reputations too.

Technologies such AI helps us safely manage the billions of transactions on our network at speed and scale. We are using AI today to power cybersecurity, personalisation, and digital identity platforms. But we’re not stopping there. Our AI-powered innovations aim to solve next-generation problems — including and beyond payments — to empower people with new digital tools and support our business customers’ AI journeys. We use it to secure billions of transactions that pass through our network each year; our AI-powered solutions alone have saved over $35 billion in fraud globally in the past three years. Covering more than 14 million entities, we are one of the world’s largest cyber assessment solution providers. With our products we are building AI into various modules within our fraud assessment ecosystem as well as leading cutting-edge work in the field of behavioural biometrics to pre-empt and prevent fraud and make payment a safe and secure experience for everyone.

How does Mastercard leverage AI to address evolving cyber threats and ensure robust cybersecurity protocols?

We think of AI like electricity: powering our society, enlightening our communities, and driving progress forward. That’s why we are using the technology everywhere we can, while understanding and minimising the risks. We’re investing in both the people and the technology to fuel AI.

Our AI-powered innovations aim to solve next-generation problems —including and beyond payments —to empower people with new digital tools that align with our cybersecurity goals. Fraud detection, malware detection, intrusion detection, scoring risk in a network, and user/machine behavioural analysis are the five highest AI use cases for improving cybersecurity. Our approach to security leans into insights and integrated services, giving our customers and partners deeper visibility into cyber risk and greater adaptability and resilience, protecting their systems through the latest AI technology, delivering peace of mind to the people and businesses they serve while protecting reputations too.

AI is central to the work being done at Mastercard, and critical to our products and services. We’ve been using AI for more than a decade, to make payments safer and more secure, as well as to enhance processes, operations, and functions within the organisation. AI allows us to protect billions of transactions we switch on our network every year, at speed and scale. Our solutions such as Decision Intelligence, Safety Net etc., use AI to flag, prevent and even preempt fraudulent transactions. AI and ML can learn and adapt over time, becoming more accurate at identifying potential security threats. This adaptability allows organisations to continuously enhance their security posture and stay ahead of evolving cyber threats. By analysing data from various sources, including social media and the dark web, AI can predict and avert cyberattacks before they occur. This proactive approach can help Indian organisations take preventive measures and protect their assets. In fact, we have a dedicated team called AI Garage at Mastercard that integrates existing and new data sources and employs AI as a tool to support the business goal of consumer security. AI Garage leverages cutting-edge research and resources to develop innovative and insightful intelligence from new data sources that emerge as a result of Mastercard acquisitions and external data in our ecosystem. Using deeper intelligence, we are constantly inventing effective methods for further safeguarding our consumers. We strive to be at the forefront of innovation, development, and adoption of AI for enhancing payment security and services.

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