We talked to Pablo de la Riva on how Buguroo helps prevent online banking fraud, and this is what he had to say.
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First of all, how are you and your family doing in these COVID-19 times?
Pablo de la Riva: We’re all very well, thank you. We are trying our best to stay healthy and positive and keep others around us safe, too. I think that’s all you can hope for!
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Tell us about you, your career, how you founded Buguroo?
Pablo de la Riva: As a child, I was interested in architecture, and for a while, that was what I wanted to do when I grew up. However, I’ve been passionate about anti-fraud ever since I was hacked on my first ever computer, aged just 12 years old. I’ve wanted to outsmart online attackers ever since. I decided to collect as much experience as I could in the cybersecurity industry, which included founding a security consulting firm when I was 21, working as a cybersecurity analyst, and developing my technical and leadership skills as a CTO.
I’ve learned from my cybersecurity industry experiences that detecting fraud with the most accuracy requires authenticating each online user. If you can confirm that users are who they say they are and aren’t being manipulated at any point throughout their online session, you can guarantee that fraud isn’t taking place. This led to what I wanted to do: found a company whose mission is to comprehensively detect and prevent online fraud. That company is Buguroo. It’s at Buguroo that we discovered early on the magic of behavioral biometrics, which can authenticate users by analyzing their online interactions – for example, the way they hold their phone or the speed and rhythm with which they usually type – for verifying users’ identity as well as identifying and stopping fraudsters themselves.
How does Buguroo innovate?
Pablo de la Riva: We have a unique vision, which drives the roadmap of our innovations. This vision is defined by our realization that fraudsters are continually adapting to thwart the very defenses and technologies put in place to stop them. The real challenge in anti-fraud is staying one step ahead of fraudsters because the only way to cut online banking fraud off at its root is to detect and respond to fraud proactively and then block it from happening again. Using behavioral biometrics as the foundational technology for fraud prevention is innovative. It provides a highly accurate method for user authentication without adding any extra friction to the user journey.
Our technology is in constant evolution to stay ahead of maturing fraud attempts. We release regular product updates to tailor our anti-fraud solution to the specific needs of our clients. For example, our latest product update added a new capability, Policy Manager, to our Fraudster Hunter tool to give fraud analysts a simple way to automate fraud response. Fraudster Hunter uses behavioral biometrics-powered link analysis to root out fraudsters hiding inside a bank’s system, and Policy Manager provides the ability to create bespoke, automated defenses that stop the same type of fraud or same fraudster from committing fraud at the same bank in the future, effectively blocking future fraud before it can even occur.
How the coronavirus pandemic affects your business, and how are you coping?
Pablo de la Riva: We’ve certainly been busy! Just like everyone else, we have had to adapt to working remotely. Still, more importantly, we have been on a mission to educate consumers and the market as a whole about the massive spike in online fraud that has occurred recently – primarily as a result of the pandemic – and become part of the solution. Fraudsters saw an opportunity to exploit the fear and uncertainty and the increased usage of digital channels such as online banking platforms. While physical branch visits were impossible or inconvenient, to perpetrate fraud and steal people’s money. That means we have been working hard to stay one step ahead of fraud and keep our clients and their customers safe. Beyond expanding our anti-fraud solutions’ capabilities, we set up a Covid-19 Resource Center to help consumers recognize Covid scams and stay safe from attacks.
Did you have to make difficult choices, and what are the lessons learned?
Pablo de la Riva: The fact that we started our company focused on stopping fraud that targets financial services organizations has helped us during this period. Fraud is saturated in the financial services industry for obvious reasons, and fraudsters’ techniques are usually much more sophisticated. As all types of online fraud spiked in 2020 due to digitalization and remote working, our experience in dealing with these types of fraud combined with our tools’ versatility has enabled us – and subsequently, financial organizations – to adapt to face any situation. Businesses have also approached us from many other industries looking to tighten online security, which shows us exciting times ahead for behavioral biometrics-driven authentication technology.
We have learned that in cybersecurity, basic authentication is no longer enough. Enterprises need to implement much more stringent methods of verifying identity online. Behavioral biometrics is probably the smartest and most accurate way to guarantee an online user’s identity is genuine without deploying too much friction by adding additional security checks.
How do you deal with stress and anxiety?
Pablo de la Riva: 2020 was a challenging year for all of us, and the pandemic will likely impact our lives for years to come. I worry, too, just like everyone else – but I’m also fortunate both in my personal life to be surrounded by people who support me and in my professional life, too.
At Buguroo, we’ve created a team of experts, hugely talented and smart people who have what it takes to solve problems and do so conscientiously. Fraud has gone through the roof in recent times, and our solution makes a real difference – a notion every member of Buguroo understands. I want to support these people to the best of my ability so that together, we can safeguard consumers’ livelihoods. It’s real people we’re protecting, and we don’t want to let any of them down. I’ve always been very driven, and I like to think I thrive under pressure. Hence, while I’m not immune to stress, the rewarding nature of this work drives me to keep working on fine-tuning our solution and comprehensively preventing online banking fraud.
Who are your competitors? And how do you plan to stay in the game?
Pablo de la Riva: Although it is a relatively new technology in the anti-fraud industry, behavioral biometrics is gaining massive momentum due to its unrivaled ability to detect and prevent fraud, so competition is starting to emerge. As mentioned, our primary focus is staying at least one step ahead of fraudsters by identifying malicious entities already in the bank’s system and those trying to gain access, thereby not just detecting fraud but responding to it and proactively stopping it from happening again.
It also takes time to fine-tune a behavioral biometrics solution powered by deep learning, and our experience in the market marks us as industry leaders. We have found, for example, that whereas many competitors’ solutions work by comparing user sessions with the online behavior of clusters of ‘good’ or ‘bad’ users, it is much more accurate to compare each customer’s online interaction with the bank against their personal history. This way, we can pinpoint the smallest of inaccuracies to stop fraudsters from falling through the gaps. We can also avoid false positives, which means we can help clients maintain a frictionless experience for customers – a big priority for them when thinking about security. Our holistic approach covers all fraud use cases in the market. It offers banks all three of the critical capabilities that Gartner stipulates must be included in any comprehensive anti-fraud strategy: behavioral analytics, malware protection, and device assessment.
Your final thoughts?
Pablo de la Riva: These haven’t been easy times for any of us, but it has been a year in which it’s been more critical than ever to keep up the fight against online fraud. We’ve worked hard to keep innovating to address our customers’ needs and get ready for 2021 – a year set to be a huge and exciting one for buguroo and our campaign to block fraud.
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