by Jennifer O'Brien

Australia an economic crime ‘hotspot’: PwC

May 18, 2016

A new survey paints a gloomy picture for Australian organisations, which were found to experience cybercrime at double the global rate, with 65 per cent attacked in the last 24 months compared to 32 per cent globally.

PwC’s 2016 Global Economic Crime Survey reported Australia’s organisations are also dealing with more individual incidents of economic crime, as more than half of Australian organisations (52 per cent) have been victims in the last 24 months, a significantly higher rate compared to the global average of 36 per cent.

Further, 30 per cent of Australian firms experienced more than 100 incidents compared to only nine per cent of global respondents experiencing the same volume, according to the PwC survey. Cybercrime was the number one economic crime in Australia, followed by asset misappropriation and then procurement fraud.

“The types of economic crime most commonly experienced remains consistent with previous years, but we are dealing with an increasingly complex economic crime environment driven by cyber threats,” Malcolm Shackell, PwC partner and forensic services leader, said.

Sixty five per cent of Australian organisations experienced cybercrime in the last 24 months, while more than one in ten Australian organisations reported financial losses of over AUD$1 million. While 80 per cent identified an increase in their perception of the risks of cybercrime, only 42 per cent of organisations claimed to have a fully operational incident response plan, and only 40 per cent described their first responders as fully trained.

Money laundering is also on the rise. The survey reported Australian organisations experienced more incidents of money laundering than their global peers over the last 24 months – 26 per cent, compared to 11 per cent globally, and nine per cent for the rest of the Asia Pacific region.

With Australia considered a “hotspot” for economic crime, Shackell said bucking the trend will require resilience. He advised organisations to move away from reliance on reactive detention methods to more sophisticated and proactive preventative and detective tools and techniques – a global course of action reaping benefits.

“I think it’s fair to say we’re a legitimate economic crime hotspot – it’s not a good picture. The high rate of economic crime exposed, in part, reflects our serious approach to reporting but given we are lagging on early detection mechanisms, it reflects our reliance on doing what we have always done.”

Many detection and control programs are unable to adequately protect the organisation due to recurring issues cited in the survey including data quality, skills, resources, and board level engagement.

Only seven per cent of Australian organisations say they are using sophisticated internal monitoring approaches – such as data or predictive analytics – which are more difficult to circumvent.

“Too few companies are adapting their risk assessments and control frameworks fast enough, and we’re now seeing a trend in fraud detection of too much being left to chance. Understanding what data you have, how it flows and how it changes, can be a critical first step,” Shackell said.