This article was written by Brendan Horton, Security Analyst at
Small or large, it is not uncommon to hear about a new sophisticated attack carried out on an organization. In the era of digital change, it is no surprise that threat actors have begun exploiting new vulnerabilities in the ever-changing threat landscape. Today, organizations need to prioritize protecting their sensitive information, organizational funds, and corporate landscape. In order to effectively combat such a complex problem, some might say a complex solution is required. Financially motivated cyber-attacks can be best combatted when the remediation and investigation is guided by a multilayered team to help bridge the gap between financial functions and technology.
Forensic accountants are an invaluable asset in searching for financial anomalies, unusual trends, and misappropriation of funds. Similarly, cybersecurity experts are well-versed in preventing, detecting, and responding to intrusions and breaches and remediating control weaknesses. Forensic accountants and cybersecurity experts working collaboratively with each other can deliver the complex solution to corporate crime.
Cybersecurity professionals help design and implement processes, controls, and systems based on industry standards (i.e., NIST) in order to mitigate the risk of cyber criminals gaining access to critical information. In the event of a breach, these professionals must act swiftly and employ a variety of techniques to close the digital path to systems. At their core, the competencies and characteristics of cybersecurity professionals are like those of a forensic accountant. A seasoned forensic accountant brings experience and knowledge to the many forms of corporate fraud, as well as the necessary steps to employ investigative techniques to spot trends and outliers in large data sets.
It is clear that forensic accountants and cybersecurity professionals were cut from the same cloth, with the primary difference being the focus of safeguarding financial information versus technology systems. These two focus areas are often intertwined, creating a natural need for collaboration and teamwork.
How These Two Professions Can Work Together
Whether the focus is on pre-incident controls and processes, active investigations, or post-incident remediation, organizations can benefit from having personnel with diversified skills available to them. Cybersecurity professionals are often said to be searching for the who, what, where, and how of a breach. While this is crucial, forensic accountants can add to the search by supplementing any findings on how that breach impacted your organization’s business controls and funds. This is done by calculating potential losses, assessing and disclosing accounting requirements, and/or assisting with evidence collection for insurance claim purposes.
While not all incidents are the same, it should go without saying that financially motivated attacks are becoming the new normal. Criminals have surpassed the era of hold-ups and cooking the books. Today’s incidents have evolved into complex cyberattacks because criminals want access to your organization’s funds at the click of a key. Take a look at the most recent trend of attacks. Criminals are targeting Facebook business accounts with a multifaceted approach in order to gain direct access to financials. Customers are paying for services or buying goods and little do they know, their payments have been re-routed to the attackers’ accounts. How long will it take for the business owner to realize they have been a victim of an attack? Often times, these situations go undetected until a red flag is raised.
Having a strong cybersecurity team working alongside forensic accountants can help your organization more rapidly close internal control and technological gaps, implement safeguards, and adequately prevent or detect the misappropriation of funds before losses are incurred. Possessing a strong defensive line will help your organization in the fight against profit-seeking cyber-attacks.
At FoxPointe Solutions, cybersecurity experts and forensic accountants can work hand-in-hand as a single investigative team to gain a detailed understanding on what your organization may need. Visit foxpointesolutions.com to learn more about our services.