PracticeAccounting FirmsOne resolution worth sticking to

One resolution worth sticking to

It is the time of year to make resolutions and, in the case of financial directors, this should include examination of their fraud-prevention measures

The rapidly changing nature of economic crime means that fraudsters are using
innovative and sophisticated methods, such as the web, mobile phones and even
iPods, to commit corporate fraud.

PricewaterhouseCoopers has witnessed an increasing number of incidents of
criminals using new tools to facilitate economic crime.

One such tool is a keystroke logger, a tiny device that connects to a
keyboard or a piece of hidden software that records all keystrokes by the
keyboard user. Such devices have been used on corporate networks to capture
confidential data, such as account names and passwords.

Even the seemingly innocuous Christmas gift of an iPod has the potential to
utilise the storage capacity of a computer to steal electronic records.

There is little doubt that today’s fraudster is using technology that is
readily available and affordable, but is there anything that companies can
actually do to prevent fraud? Fraudsters may share some characteristics, but
they are difficult to spot before a crime is committed.

However, it is possible to identify where opportunities exist for the
fraudster and to take measures to significantly reduce them.

A significant tool is an understanding of where a business is most exposed to
the threat of fraud through its IT infrastructure. In turn, IT can play a major
role in the fight against fraud.

Very few ‘off-the-shelf’ solutions fit all of an organisation’s requirements,
but consideration of the following is important.

You should conduct a rigorous assessment of IT fraud risk exposure and set up
a formal incident response plan. A clearly written ethical code with known
consequences for breaches is a must. And full consideration of the implications
of the Data Protection Act is also vital.

If you haven’t done this, it’s time to act. Role-based access controls are
one solution, ensuring access to data only for those who need it.

Failure to take an anti-fraud resolution more seriously than the promised new
year diet could really hit the financial waistline.

Jarrod Haggerty is forensic technology director at
PricewaterhouseCoopers

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