Service Objects Unveils Ability to Detect TOR Network Users to Thwart Online Fraud

By Peter Bernstein October 22, 2013

Last year, online retailers reported over $3.9 billion in online fraud. This is to say the least a big problem and getting bigger. And, with the holiday shopping season already underway thanks to the increased popularity of Halloween and the increasingly early start on Christmas shopping, online retailers are looking for solutions to mitigate the risks of fraud. One capability they may wish to investigate in a new addition by Santa Barbara-based Service Objects to it DOTS IP Address Validation product. Just in time for the holidays, Service Objects has added the ability to detect TOR network users.

Peeling away the cloak of anonymity

In case you are unaware of ToR, take notice. TOR is free software and an open network that is designed on letting its users defend against traffic analysis, e.g., network surveillance. It is a shield against prying eyes, particularly those of a commercial nature. TOR provides user protection by having volunteers relay personal communications around a distributed global network. As it says, “It prevents somebody watching your Internet connection from learning what sites you visit, and it prevents the sites you visit from learning your physical location.”


image via shutterstock

TOR sounds benign enough in theory. In fact, it actually sounds useful, especially for those of us who are concerned about our privacy being violated. However, the downside is that by providing anonymity, TOR hides bad actors from being found and prosecuted when they do such things as placing bogus orders with stolen credit cards.  

Service Objects updated DOTS IP Address Validation so that retailers can uncover real-time location and network information about the IP address linked to the user, warning them of contacts utilizing TOR and other anonymous proxies. With this knowledge, retailers can make informed decisions about the risks associated with these types of online transactions.

“Service Objects is committed to helping businesses reduce fraud through data quality excellence,” said Geoffrey Grow, CEO of Service Objects. “TOR Network detection further improves DOTS IP Address Validation’s ability to detect suspicious transactions and alert businesses before they make a mistake in fulfilling a transaction, saving them valuable time, money and headaches in an important fourth quarter.”

Service Objects uses more than 50 authenticated sources that provide millions of unique IP records. The company believes this makes the service more accurate than any other geo-location offering currently on the market. In addition to its DOTS IP Address Validation service, Service Objects offers businesses a collection of data validation tools that provide a first line of defense against online fraud and bogus contact information.

For trust to be established and ecommerce to work as it is supposed to work two things are necessary. First, I need to know that you are who you say you are when I visit your website and provide ask me to provide personal information. Second, you need to know that I am who I say I am, and in a world filled with bad actors you need, or would certainly like, to not just validate me but have assurance that I am traceable if things go wrong. 

While there is always going to be an escalation of measures and counter-measures as e-commerce matures, striking a balance regarding permissions will be critical. In other words, am I willing to provide you permission to obtain my personal data in exchange for assured service where that information is protected, and are you still comfortable transacting with me if I am trying to protect myself from unwanted or unsolicited use of my personal data?  

In a world where real-time mediation of permissions are emerging as foundational to the conduct of online commerce, knowing the boundaries and who you are dealing with at least gives everyone options as to if they wish to proceed. And, for online merchants, this knowledge and the ability to make decisions based on trustworthiness or lack thereof can be the difference between a profitable or unprofitable holiday season. 

Indeed, when everything is tallied, it will be interesting to see the impact Service Objects’ solution and a host of other authentication technologies will have on cutting that fraud number. Happy shopping!




Edited by Ryan Sartor
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