Organizations adopting strong defense measures to tackle rising pandemic-driven fraud: Survey

Firms fight back with automation and accountability

Organizations adopting strong defense measures to tackle rising pandemic-driven fraud: Survey - CIO&Leader

The pandemic accelerated both the threat of fraud and the response to it, with corporate and banking alignment on defensive automation, according to Bottomline & Strategic Treasurer’s 2021 Treasury Fraud & Controls Survey. The survey gathered details about corporate and banking experiences, actions and plans regarding fraud.

Some of the key findings include:

  • Spending more/significantly more on security is a 3-year trend (2019: 17%; 2020: 19%; 2021: 22%).
  • 86% of bank respondents perceive Business Email Compromise/Authorized Fraud to be the greatest risk to their business over the next 1-2 years.
  • One-fifth of fraud experiences had a COVID-19 connection (21%).

Against a multi-year trend of increasing sophistication and automation of fraud, opportunistic criminals leveraged the pandemic-driven push to remote operations to strike in a blitz offensive. The rapid transition to a work from home (WFH) environment created exposures that outpaced structural and procedural defenses, resulting in accelerated threats and fraud loss.

Smaller firms were hit the hardest (26% of small business fraud had a tie to the virus, as opposed to only 17% for larger companies). Presumably, their potential payouts previously fell below the radar of criminals who now, with the development of greater automation and a backdrop of expanded vulnerabilities, have broadened their sights to include targets of all sizes.

Organizational responses have been intentional and multifaceted, enhancing both human and technical elements of defense:

  • Staff assignments in accountability for managing fraud have grown by 50% from levels measured just two years ago.
  • On the technology front, firms are advancing via increased levels of automation, use of backend functions like fraud interdiction, and improved customer experience (90% noted this as a key area of technology investment) for optimizing the use of these digital tools – a trend which overlaps both banks and corporates.

"Ultimately, we are seeing digital warfare escalation, in which firms are meeting the criminal use of automation with their own defensive tools and controls," says Craig Jeffery, Managing Partner of Strategic Treasurer.

Omri Kletter, VP, Cyber Crime and Fraud Management at Bottomline, also commented on the escalation: “Investments to digitally transform customer experiences and power faster payments are met with equally dynamic threats. Survey results show ongoing concern about business email compromise, authorized fraud, and account takeover, as well as an increase in threats faced by small and medium-sized corporate customers. The results are a clear call-to-action, and Bottomline is on the front-lines of the effort with the protection of end-customers top of mind.”

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