Secure your data and funds: the rise of cybercrime during COVID-19 and the need for increased security by leveraging blockchain technology

Innovation during this global pandemic is the key to saving lives and livelihoods.

By: Ian T. Staley, VP of Business Development at Ubitquity, LLC

As time carries on and continues to move per usual, lately our lives during this pandemic seem to be moving at variable, inconsistent speeds. Some industries like real estate are booming with work, primarily through refinances. Some industries had to completely shut down for months and take a huge hit, like hospitality. One thing is for sure though, cyber attacks are not slowing down.

According to The Hill, FBI sees major spike in coronavirus-related cyber threats — FBI’s Internet Crime Complaint Center (IC3) has received 20,000 coronavirus-related cyber threat reports this year, as officials sounded the alarm on growing cyber threats to COVID-19 vaccine research. Tonya Ugoretz, the Deputy Assistant Director of the FBI’s Cyber Division, said during a virtual conference hosted by cybersecurity group CrowdStrike that the IC3 was tracking a massive spike in hackers using the COVID-19 crisis to target Americans.

“Already, here we are in the first or second week of June, the IC3 has already had as many complaints up to this point as they did for all of 2019, and that is for all types of internet fraud,” Ugoretz said.

As noted, prior, the real estate industry has been booming with work during this pandemic — which is good for revenue, profit, and growth, but it comes at a cost as it is a prime target for cyber criminals. The Legal Description reported that CertifID warns of increased risk of holiday wire fraud. CertifID is issuing a national fraud alert to all parties involved in real estate transactions leading up to the observance of Independence Day this week.

“We are in a perfect storm right now as the title industry is adjusting to the ‘new normal’ of prolonged social distancing measures that include work from home, remote online closings, and a sharp increase in the use of electronic funds transfers,” said Tom Cronkright, CEO of CertifID, in a press release. “We had visibility into several fraud schemes that took place over Memorial Day weekend a few weeks ago and noticed an alarming trend — the speed at which money is moved or ‘muled’ between accounts is alarming. Recovery of stolen funds may come down to minutes or hours, not days, as money is transferred in nearly real-time to avoid detection and recall.”

In times like these, where cybersecurity is at risk and fraud is on the rise — one need look no further than to blockchain technology as the gold standard in safeguarding data and funds. Forbes notes Three Ways Blockchain Helps Businesses Combat Fraud. Research shows identity fraud cost consumers $16B in 2017 — not to mention lots of headaches and sleepless nights. When it comes to blockchain, the long and short of it is this: it serves as an objective, trustworthy, third-party mediator in pretty much any interaction, deal, or partnership you can imagine. It helps ensure trust and transparency, even amongst those who don’t trust each other. It can be used in copyrighting, divorce mediation, online shopping, and pretty much any other transaction you can think of — and its potential is just beginning. Fraud will be a thing of the past.

Tighter supply chains are a product of leveraging blockchain technology, as unique identifiers are assigned to track assets throughout a global economy of interconnected trade. Companies can combat fraud with blockchain by verifying the legitimacy of every part of the supply chain process, helping both the buyer and manufacturer. You’ll never have to question that organic produce and those free-range eggs. This would apply to supply chain finance, as well, in tracking the validity of a loan note for resale.

The last and probably most beneficial to combating wire fraud in the title and escrow industry are smart contracts, which allow both buyer and seller to create “if / then” contracts in which one step of the process won’t be fulfilled until the one before it has been verified complete.

UBITQUITY, LLC. — The enterprise ready blockchain-secured platform for real estate recordkeeping has the solution for all of your cybersecurity woes in the real estate industry. Leveraging a robust API that can easily integrate into your closing software stack, Ubitquity provides unanimity℠, our Blockchain-as-a-Service platform that helps title and escrow agents integrate blockchain capabilities into existing applications without expensive infrastructure cost or cryptocurrency handling. Ubitquity offers a complete environment for exploration, prototyping, and production use cases.

Ubitquity’s smart contract module, a blockchain-based smart escrow contracts product named SmartEscrow™ allows for reduced overhead costs and mitigated risks. Once data is placed on the blockchain it can be easily retrieved and re-used without a need for further verification. The data becomes a single source of truth all parties to the transaction can trust without the need to reconcile. SmartEscrow™ allows closing agents to avoid and mitigate fraud — allowing them and their clients to have the assurance that verified parties are sending and receiving funds from the proper source with our secure wire instruction tools. This is just one of the many benefits of collaborating within a blockchain environment.

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Ubitquity, LLC was founded on September 15, 2015. We are based out of Wilmington, Delaware, USA, with staff, an advisory board, and partners located worldwide.

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