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How a cyber cop patrols the underworld of e-commerce

Taylor Armerding | April 17, 2014
Payza 'cyber cop' Melissa Andrews tracks good, bad and ugly websites with the mission of shutting down criminal operations.

Melissa Andrews, a resident of Canada, is a cyber security "cop" for Payza, an international e-commerce payment platform operating in 97 countries. Her job, described by the company's public relations firm as "the worst security job on the Internet," is to protect the public from illegal, and many times revolting, content, by shutting the sites down and alerting authorities about criminal activity. She spoke with CSO this week about her job and why she is proud of what she does.

What drew you to this type of work?

It was a natural progression in my roles within the organization. I've always had an interest in the online world, and how websites truly function. After seeing the amount of fraud that happens online, I was intrigued in the number of ways to mitigate it.

What is your background and training?

I have a background in customer service, account management and fraud prevention, and have been working with the Merchant Risk team for about three years. I was lucky to work for a company that saw my potential and was willing to provide the necessary guidance and training.

Did you need special training before you took this job? If so, describe it. Did it prepare you for the reality of the work?

When I initially joined Payza, I received in-depth training on how the company functions, and started in customer service. The Merchant Risk department is cross-trained in CS, Fraud, and Risk, which are vital to understanding how someone might try and take advantage of our system. However, as industries and trends are always evolving it's important to keep up to date. Having good analytical skills, and a general curious nature is key to mitigating. That said, while it has prepared me for the reality of the job, I am still sometimes surprised at what you can find online. Some other skill sets that prove vital for this role are a good understanding of web technologies and a strong investigative drive.

How long do you think you can continue doing it, and why?

While, the job entails reviewing websites and content online that some many find disturbing, graphic or unethical, it remains rewarding, knowing that we can do our part to investigate, catch and help shut down the illegal ones.

Payza's has a global operation, and we work closely with various law enforcement organizations in different parts of the world, such as RCMP, FBI, Department of Homeland Security, Interpol etc. So, knowing that I am contributing to weeding out the bad players, and having them prosecuted if necessary, makes it worth it.

Do you really spend your days poring over some of the worst sites on the Internet?
For the most part, the websites that people submit to us for review are general e-commerce websites. However, there are times we have to review websites that make you question who comes up with that kind of stuff. Some websites go against our user agreement, whereas there are others that are very illegal.

 

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