Merchant Risk Council – Tom Ridge

by Allen Weinberg on March 11, 2009

in Allen Weinberg, Card Fraud, Conferences & Meetings, ECommerce, Ecommerce Payments, MasterCard

Allen Weinberg

Former Secretary of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security and Governor of Pennsylvania Tom Ridge keynoted this morning’s opening of the Merchant Risk Council. What a great speaker! Note that Ridge also sits on the board of Ethoca (

Ridge focused on managing risk in environment of uncertainty. He cited ties fraud to domestic/national security – including at least the strong possibility that payments fraud can fund terrorist organizations. Sees much stronger, more visible ties to global organized crime (cited a few anecdotes of breaches tied to organized crime). Believes there is lots of collaboration amongst global criminals re: a merchant’s/institution’s vulnerabilities.

Very optimistic about growth in online commerce – believes half of commerce will be online in the near future. Potential barriers/friction includes trust in online commerce (phishing, data breaches, denial of service attacks, etc.). Cost of this is loss of convenience, time (e.g., back office fraud reviews, need to ask consumers for additional identity information), productivity, and for both the enterprise and the consumer.

Other comments/issues discussed:

  • Challenge is to not treat all customers as suspect, while maintaining good security.
  • As a country our economic success and security are increasingly tied to that of the rest of the world
  • “Better to manage risk before it manages you”
  • Concerns over our ability to innovate, and be an innovation-based economy due to our education system’s decline
  • Believes in the practical use of biometrics – BUT has a strong, strong belief in citizen’s privacy.
  • No question that there are rooms filled with people in certain countries working on state-sponsored cyber warfare (cited examples of Russia’s disruption of its enemies’ communications and logistics during the recent conflicts

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