Realising the wide scope of fraud should be at the top of every business executive’s to-do list. Here’s some practical advice to help you stay safe.
Fraud has a long history. Old-fashioned confidence schemes, scams through the mail (such as fake lotteries) or via telephone (false bill and tax collectors), and cyberattacks all share a common thread: the desire for easy cash by criminals who may never see their victims in person.
Business executives and their teams of systems/security operations pros running any critical network of devices and people – from banks and government to tech companies, insurers, and retailers – are realising just how pervasive fraud is. The biggest development is that fraudulent activity is coming from a multitude of sources, both human and machine. While ransomware and phishing attacks show up in the headlines, fraud is often an inside job, conducted by unhappy employees looking to make some quick money and get revenge on their company.
Four major fraud types
But the main goal of most thieves is financial gain; they can achieve it by obtaining personally identifiable information, manipulating identities, and making transactions. Or they can work from inside of a company, obtaining common business practices and policies so that they know how to avoid them; this could mean working closely with a compromised employee who also stands to gain. Here are four major types of fraud:
1) Identity theft: Criminals steal an existing identity to commit fraud; they often get one chance at this crime before their activities show up on a person’s credit card statement, and thus damages are limited. Much identity theft today is carried out via email and text-message phishing schemes, either targeting large groups (such as all employees at a company) or a single person, based on his or her worth.
2) Synthetic fraud: Some criminals have used various forms of synthetic fraud, meaning the creation of a fake identity. This can, for example, be used to steal new cars from dealers or receive tax refunds and other undeserved payments. Instead of using a real name, criminals choose a new “synthetic” identity and then pick up the car they ordered and drive away. Banks are now losing more to this crime than ever before – around $2 billion per year, per research from TransUnion.
3) Ransomware: Ransomware has exploded in the past few years. Hospitals have been entangled with ransomware that encrypts their information and demands a Bitcoin ransom since 2016.
4) Digital fraud: Cyberattacks have a different feel – but despite the high-tech gloss, the result is the same. The motivations for such attacks can be blackmail, embarrassment, or both. Think about the 2015 Sony Entertainment hack, competitive spying (such as how Uber spied on Lyft), and even political objectives.