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News

Fraud risk higher during wave of increased crime

Dns : 27 January, 2009  (Technical Article)
Financial crisis has lead to increases in crime in the UK with computer based fraud being at a significantly high risk according to Home Office figures
Ministers are warning that Home Office figures published last week provide clear evidence of a link between the recession and sharp increases in some criminal offences. Many police forces are reporting a significant rise in certain offences during the fourth quarter of 2008 with burglary and robbery doubling in some areas.

The government figures, which cover July to September 2008, show domestic burglaries up 4%, robberies involving knives recorded by police by 18%, murders involving knives by 10% and fraud and forgery are also up by a figure of 16%.

dns, a UK based consultancy specialising in information security services, believes that the figures relating to fraud are especially relevant for individuals and organisations worried about IT security. As the economic crisis continues to worsen, cyber criminals and potentially even 'rogue' internal staff will be increasingly on the lookout for opportunities to defraud and disrupt. Lee Lawson, lead penetration tester at dns, argues that while budgets might be getting tighter, now is definitely not the time to reduce spending on security infrastructure. "The recession is sure to lead to a significant increase in fraud. Serious organised crime will grow as will incidents of individual internal fraud. Sometimes cases perceived to be individual fraud will be linked to organised criminals but increasingly these incidents will be a result of desperate individuals acting independently."

"Organisations need to ensure that all financial and organisational procedures are as tight as possible. While technology is important in the battle against fraud, organisations should also be providing adequate staff support and training in order to prevent employees from making mistakes they may later regret. The balance of IT security, staff policy and education is often hard to find and companies may want to consider external advice in order to get it just right."

Lawson continued, "There are specific dangers that organisations will want to look out for in 2009. Organisations should keep up to date with new social networking sites as and when they gain in popularity due to the security threat that they pose. Recent incidents have shown the speed cyber attacks can spread through users of these sites. Guidelines should be in place to regulate the use of these sites along with established sites like Facebook, MySpace and Bebo. It is important to not simply ban social networking sites and potentially alienate staff, but to try and strike a balance. This is obviously not easy to do but companies will need to act, as social networking sites are likely to be the main conduit through which viruses and Trojans are spread in 2009."
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