These are trying times and scammers are upping their game to take full advantage.
According to cybersecurity expert and subject of Catch Me if You Can, Frank Abagnale, we’re living in a fraudsters’ paradise.
“People are home working on computers. It’s a dream come true for fraudsters,” says Abagnale. “They are always looking for weak spots and we’ve given it to them.”
We talked with Abagnale and our Chief Information Security Officer, Christina Quaine, to better understand the vulnerabilities exposed by remote work environments and tough economic times in general, and asked for their advice on how companies can protect themselves.
Here’s what we learned:
Why Threats are Escalating
Whether back in the office or still working from home, we’re vulnerable to security breaches that can expose sensitive personal and financial information and cost organizations millions.
Technology typically isn’t as secure when we’re working from home— we’re working on personal devices, may have been lax about updating software and security patches, and we’re sending important info on unprotected networks.
Scammers are gaining access, whether we’re at home or in the office, through phishing campaigns that get us to click on links in emails, opening up a goldmine of data and allowing an inside look at our operations.
Abagnale says it’s not uncommon for fraudsters to spend weeks or even months in our email in order to understand the who’s who of our organization and get to know financial processes. From there, they not only get access to important data like customer and credit card information, they can convincingly impersonate high-level employees and make fraudulent financial transactions.
What else poses big time risk? Good ole paper checks. According to Goldman Sachs, an estimated 80% of small to medium-size business payments are still made via paper check. What’s more, the US government recently unleashed millions of stimulus checks, many through the mail service, and is expected to send a second round soon. Scammers don’t have to be criminal masterminds to steal checks from the mail, forge signatures and alter amounts, earning checks a spot on the top fraudulent vehicles list.
How to Protect Your Organization
There’s good news. Companies can mitigate these costly threats by concentrating on these three areas:
- Awareness and Education — Understanding security and fraud risks is step one in building a defense against them. IT departments can alert employees to trends and encourage them to be watchful of unusual or suspicious behavior.
- Best Practices — Education needs to be backed by effective security best practices. Think everything from a code of ethics, security policies on devices and processes, and internal controls such as segregation of duties and multiple approvals.
- Technology — Keeping it updated helps stay a step ahead of criminals, as does using stronger passwords and investing in software and services that protect processes, such as those related to invoices and payments.
How AP Automation Can Play an Important Role
AP processes are critical to maintaining operations and ensuring business continuity. Automating those processes not only enables an AP team to work without printing invoices, chasing approvals and mailing checks.
Automation also provides important security benefits, such as:
- Tighter control throughout the entire AP process
- Workflow management with greater visibility
- Audit logs that flag changes made and test best practices
- Fraud detection applications to monitor for fraud
- Positive Pay to deter check fraud
- E-payment methods that are safer than paper checks
Want to hear more from Frank Abagnale and Christina Quaine about the rising risks of financial fraud and how accounts payable automation can help improve your security? Click here to watch the full webinar recording and check out more information on AvidXchange’s suite of AP automation solutions.