From the president

Deciphering the cyber threat

Cyberattacks have always made headlines. But they’re now occurring more frequently and causing widespread damage. Hackers have broadened their reach by infecting supply chains with ransomware and have recently crippled oil pipelines, meatpacking plants and grocery stores across the globe.

These disruptions have the potential to cause serious injury to the global economy. And the ACFE stresses the need for comprehensive cybersecurity risk management amid a pandemic that has made us more vulnerable to fraudsters working in the cyber world.

In this issue’s cover story, Fraud Magazine speaks to Robert Herjavec, founder and CEO of cybersecurity firm Herjavec Group, and CFEs who are experts in cybersecurity, about how best to tackle this rising threat.  

These “attacks aren’t necessarily bigger; it’s just the attack surface is larger,” Herjavec, who is also a leading shark on the Emmy Award-winning TV show, “Shark Tank,” said during his keynote speech at the 32nd Annual ACFE Global Fraud Conference in June. 

Indeed, last year almost overnight, companies had to contend with a remote workforce spread across multiple locations and using home computers that often lacked the security defenses employed in the office.

Cybercriminals quickly took full advantage of these new entry points while the rest of the world stood by in surprise. “Most cyber frameworks did not envisage a scenario of near-universal remote working and the exploitation of such a situation by cyber threat actors,” said the U.K. Financial Stability Board in a recent report. (See “Lessons Learnt from the COVID-19 Pandemic from a Financial Stability Perspective,” Financial Stability Board.)

Fortunately, there are many tools that CFEs can deploy to help prevent these attacks, or at least minimize their impact. First, training is key. Most ransomware still comes through email. So, creating an awareness across organizations about social engineering is critical to mitigating these risks.

Second, we must prepare for potential breaches. This includes having proper data backups and a plan to mitigate any damage. Cyber experts warn it is not a question of if but when a hack will occur. In the ACFE’s latest benchmarking report, 80% of respondents said they expect a rise in cybercrime, with nearly 40% increasing their budgets for anti-fraud technology. (See The Next Normal: Preparing for a Post-Pandemic Fraud Landscape.)

Collaboration among anti-fraud professionals, which has been a mission of the ACFE since its founding, is also an important part of fighting cyberfraud. “The more information that can be shared about what kind of scams are out there … the more we can stop cyberfraud,” says Amy Boawn, CFE, a fraud fusion subject matter expert at consulting firm Booz Allen Hamilton.

Protecting clients and the public from cyber intrusion is simply another challenge CFEs are willing to accept as part of their mission to prevent fraud in all forms.  

Bruce Dorris, J.D., CFE, CPA, is president and CEO of the ACFE. Reach him at: