How IP Geolocation Keeps Organizations Safe While Building Business


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Digitalization has been well underway for some time, but recent global events have spurred more rapid evolution throughout the business landscape. From financial services to healthcare to retail, gaming, media and entertainment — and anything and everything in between — organizations have been forced to adapt as many normal business operations were suspended due to the pandemic. Their survival has depended upon it.

On short notice, countless organizations moved their workforces to remote arrangements, but also fortified their digital channels to absorb expected increases in customer traffic and demand. As noted in a recent report, DNS traffic was 220% higher in the first three quarters of 2020 than in all of 2019. As businesses rose to the challenge of delivering data-driven solutions efficiently and effectively, they found that bad actors were coming along for the ride. To manage security, a workhorse in identifying malicious connections can keep organizations on track: IP geolocation.

Walking a fine line in addressing risks
The proliferation of online service models has created commercial opportunities, providing organizations’ customers and prospects with more and faster ways to do business. However, new and expanded digital channels have also created opportunities for cyber criminals. Neustar’s Cyber Threats & Trends Report: First Half 2020, found 2.5 times as many attacks during the first half of 2020 as the same period in 2019. Daily attempts from bots and bad actors run the gamut from illicit account registrations and fraudulent transactions to malicious malware.

IT departments are tasked with a complex balancing act. Teams must evaluate all attempts to engage with a digital channel, monitoring for potentially malicious or bot activity. Excerpts from a 2019 cybercrime report indicated then that bot attacks from new account creation grew 171% year-over-year. Bots can be employed in a variety of strategies, from looking for a gap to slip inside a network to impersonating legitimate customers to commit fraud.

As IT teams attempt to prevent fraudsters or bots from being registered or authenticated on a site, they must do so with an eye toward legitimate customers and prospects. Merchants will often flag and decline suspicious purchases, but it is estimated that as many as 30% to 70% percent of those declined transactions are legitimate. Any security measures in place must appear seamless and generate as little friction as possible; anything else may dissuade clients from returning and, ultimately, affect profitability.

Moreover, IT teams must balance security and customer experience while operating in an environment growing ever more complicated. In a recent Harvard Business Review survey, 74% of respondents indicated that ongoing digitization efforts would make environments significantly more complex at their organization within the next 18 months. Along with rolling out enhanced features and functionality expected from clientele, many firms may introduce additional layers to manage simply to ensure compliance with regulations or governance within their particular industry.

Using data-driven intelligence to manage traffic
To manage security without infringing on the customer experience, businesses need data-driven intelligence on who is accessing their digital channels. Advanced organizations have been relying on IP geolocation for years and for good reason. IP geolocation data can inform IT teams about multiple characteristics associated with an address, from where it is located — down to a city and even a zip code level — to whether it is being used by a human or a bot. It can provide insight to behaviors of the connected device, alerting teams to activities outside of normal patterns that could indicate hijacking or potential for fraud.

IP geolocation data can provide instant insights, even when considering the size of the IP address universe. Version 6 of IP address specification (IPv6) is now in play, which is roughly 10 billion times larger than its IPv4 counterpart and means there are virtually an unlimited number of address spaces for the foreseeable future. Nonetheless, technology has been improved by modern analytics to give insights into 99% of all allocated IPv6 addresses.

Organizations can obtain real-time, critical information about a device associated with an IP address as it attempts to make a connection. In addition to location information — such as country, region, city, postal code, and other details — proxy and organization details can also be gleaned. All insights come together to enable IT and security teams to make informed decisions about which traffic should be permitted and which should not. Compellingly, this critical data is collected without interrupting customers as they embark on their journey, ensuring a friction-free experience for legitimate users.

Enhancing business capabilities with IP geolocation services
Beyond enabling firms to make informed decisions about how to handle visitors at the first moment of engagement, IP geolocation insights can boost business-building capabilities. Security is certainly top priority, but valuable data can be used in supporting other key initiatives.

Nurturing customer loyalty and repeat interactions can be helped by IP geolocation data, as organizations can develop a better understanding of the markets they are reaching and how they can promote a cohesive user experience. For financial services companies, it may be as simple as connecting users to branch locations and ATMs near them. For retailers, it may be directing shoppers to brick-and-mortar locations for additional deals. Organizations can also see where new prospects and returning customers are originating, providing rationale for targeted, localized marketing efforts or for furnishing the right content at right time, without endless authentication checks.

Location intelligence also has role in helping firms track user location for compliance and response. Some industries, such as gaming, may be subject to regulations that differ based on location. Leveraging IP geolocation data can help gaming organizations manage access, barring individuals residing in restricted areas while remaining open to those in approved regions. Similarly, the distribution of media or content may also be controlled by entities that need to do so, restricting access to IP addresses that appear to be outside of a permitted area.

IP geolocation offers business benefits beyond security
No matter the industry, organizations that are ready to play must have both their offensive and defensive strategies in place. IP geolocation is one service that covers both ends of the field, strengthening the customer journey and relationship that is critical to repeat business and referrals while also protecting critical enterprise assets from fraud or exploitation. Providing the right data that points to location and associated risks, IP geolocation services enable informed decision-making around security, compliance and the overall customer experience, putting businesses in a winning position.

Brian McCann
Brian McCann joined Neustar in October 2019 as EVP and President of Security Solutions. He is responsible for the vision, strategy, operations and stakeholder satisfaction of the company's cloud-based and data-driven security solutions business including Neustar's industry leading application security, DNS, security intelligence and website performance management offerings. Brian has more than 25 years of executive leadership experience in high-growth security and technology businesses and previously held senior leadership roles at NETSCOUT and ONPATH.


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