Incidents of fraud, as well as the costs for dealing with and recovering from such situations, are following an upward trend for companies around the world, according to the latest Global Economic Crime Survey recently released by PricewaterhouseCoopers' forensic services.
This increase in fraud has become apparent during the past several years, as threats to organizations' data security are now both more widespread and sophisticated. What's more, the global reliance on electronic data, which has also followed an upward path lately, has given cybercriminals and internal fraudsters more opportunities to steal both information and money.
"Companies must consider the potential damage to reputation and brand, along with the very real possibility that corrupt activity perpetrated by their employees or by affiliates, third parties, intermediaries and joint venture partners could trigger stiff penalties," PwC forensic services leader Chris Barbee said. "Not surprisingly, this topic is getting significant airtime in corporate boardrooms around the globe."
During the past 12 months, 45 percent of respondents to the Global Economic Crime Survey said they have been hit with fraud in one form or another. That's a significant increase over the 35 percent of respondents who answered similarly for the 2009 report.
Dealing with such cases appears to be a matter of Internet security measures, as 40 percent of companies that have suffered fraud in the past year said cybercrime was the root cause. This means more data security protocols should be aimed at preventing fraud incidents that originate outside of the organization.
"Cybercrime has emerged as a formidable threat, thanks to deeply determined, highly skilled and well-organized cybercriminals, from nation states to hacktivists, from criminal gangs to lone-wolf perpetrators," Didier Lavion, a principal within PwC's forensic services, said. "Organizations need to be aware and adjust to this changing landscape."
Lavion's words certainly rang true in 2011, which has served as a banner year for cybercriminals and their malicious activities. From attacks against global corporations like Sony and its PlayStation Network and marketing firm Epsilon, to intrusions into the networks of U.S. government defense contractors, cybercrime has grabbed it's share of headlines in 2011.
Moving into 2012, the time has come for the cybercrime data security threat to be treated seriously. According to a recent report from TheInfoPro, that may be already occurring.
Thirty-seven percent of respondents to TheInfoPro's survey said they expect their organization's security spending to increase next year. Just 16 percent said such investments will decline. Either way, the report found, spending on information security is higher than any other area for the average company.
The PwC report also highlighted a positive factor in terms of cybersecurity awareness, with 61 percent of respondents based in the United States claiming perceived risks have increased during the past 12 months, warranting more attention.
The report also painted a clear picture of what the average fraudster, who is most likely motivated by economic pressures, incentives and opportunities for financial gains, looks like. According to PwC, such criminals are no younger than 31 but not older than 40, has been a member of the general workforce for about three to five years and possesses a college degree.
A fraudster is also most likely to be a man, however, women account for as many as 40 percent of internal threats. The figure drops significantly, to 19 percent, when looking at the rest of the world.
Knowing what and who threatens their networks should empower more organizations to root out incidents of fraud or, even better, prevent them altogether.
Security News from SimplySecurity.com by Trend Micro