As businesses around the world have become mostly digital, fraudulent billing activities have as adjusted to the system as well. Companies today, whether a small business or a Fortune 500 Company, have become overly susceptible to digital invoice fraud - which can cost them tens of thousands to tens of millions in unwarranted losses.
While an organization's virtual data system can become compromised by hackers and other scammers, many criminal scams can include targeted phishing and billing fraud. Equipped with invoice copying programs and other convincing technologies, many of them have the ability to deceive companies, as well as in many cases the companies' customers, into paying false invoices. A commonly used strategy is to target companies or customers by posing as a third-party organization that handles payments and billing information or as an employed member of a company using relevant details and public information accessible online.
Since the hacker community is talented, highly-equipped, and well-funded, non-profits, businesses, governmental offices, and others with sensitive information to protect must use a multi-layered defense-in-depth approach to protect their data by implementing secure and proven practices, technology, and risk assessment tests. Organizations should also educate their staff about computer safety and fortifying their data with strong passwords and anti-virus software.
Online scammers have also altered their tactics during the pandemic, utilizing false email messaging regarding Covid-19 medical supplies and debt relief payments. These scams have proven to be effective in gaining an individual’s information and verifying their personal data such as passwords, bank accounts, and other financial information, in order to reap their hard-earned money.
In November of 2014, Sony Pictures was compromised by a group called "Guardians of Peace". During the group's hack, they demanded that Sony cancel "The Interview", then-upcoming comedy film by Seth Rogan and James Franco on a plot to assassinate North Korean dictator Kim Jong-un. The threat was taken seriously along with the leaking of confidential Sony Pictures film studio information, in addition to personal employee data.
The hacking of Sony by “Guardians of Peace” proved that even multinational companies are not as secure as they should be. Groups such as “GOP” use high-level technologies and techniques, in addition to targeting low level servers with easy to break into passwords and not responding to vital security alerts.
While Sweden has prioritized its progression into becoming a cashless society, the challenges and risks to protecting citizen’s data highlight the risks of digital invoice fraud, and now many other countries are also halting their transition to online financial systems.
Sweden was able to embrace online currency and a “cash-free economy” due to their high level of trust in both their governmental institutions and newer technologies, in addition to hygienic reasons, but now concerns over fraud and hacking are taking over. Since the COVID-19 pandemic is still raging around the world, with new lockdowns and continuing restrictions, vulnerability to potential cyber-attacks have risen and Swedes are as cash-strapped as ever.
In 2019, fraudulent billing tactics caused Australian businesses over $130 million in losses, mostly due to businesses’ customer details being compromised by scammers and as to pay fraudulent accounts for unused services. Enabled by the coronavirus crisis, Australia is flirting with becoming a more “cash-less” society. Though, due to concerns in cyber identity theft and false transactions for governmental services, the model is being introduced into a larger societal discussion.
Digital fraud is a real threat and can reach any organization, whether large or small, local, federal or multinational. In the past, major hackings and fraudulent transactions have become a common threat. In order to further prevent these scams and hacks, companies, organizations, and countries as a whole must further look into the challenges, risks, and results of the virtual financial system.