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Where cyber crime goes, forensic accountants follow

Member: Nifa

A search on the internet for cyber crime returns almost 6.5 million results, which serves to illustrate how prevalent and dangerous this activity has become. However, for every article on the crime, there is another one detailing how experts are tackling this scourge and at the heart of every investigation is forensic accountancy.

Recent research has found that the cost of data breaches will reach £1.3 trillion globally by 2019; almost four times this year’s level. Meanwhile, on an individual basis, the average price of a major corporate breach will exceed £94 million by 2020. While experts agree that putting an end to cyber crime is an impossibility, the authorities’ means of detecting the crimes and bringing the perpetrators to justice are also increasing.

As a former security adviser to the US Government said recently, computer forensic technologies have advanced by great measures in recent years, such that data that is merely deleted from a hard drive or an inbox might still be recoverable in some form. Therefore, without extraordinary measures being taken to evade detection, it is usually a fair bet that a user's steps can be traced and that any data the user believed was deleted can, in fact, be recovered.

This means that forensic accountants can trace fraudulent activity and follow the money that has been extorted to where the criminals believe it to be safely hidden. By using software, these experts will follow the trail from device to device, country to country and even into the so-called ‘dark web’.

Author: Roger Isaacs, 2 October 2015

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