For the first time, companies are reporting more electronic data theft than physical thefts, said London-based risk consultancy Kroll.
Kroll's "Global Fraud Report," an annual report on international fraud trends released on Oct. 18, surveyed more than 800 senior executives worldwide and across a range of industries in July and August. According to the study, electronic and information theft accounted for 27.3 percent of total fraud losses, compared with 27.2 percent for physical theft of cash, assets and inventory in 2010. Physical theft had been the most widespread form of fraud by a considerable margin in previous Global Fraud Reports.
According to the report, fraudsters are not switching away from other forms of fraud. Instead, information theft grew significantly to overtake physical theft and other types of stealing. "Information-rich industries" were the most vulnerable. According to the survey, the industry sectors with the highest levels of electronic theft are:
- Financial services
- Professional services
- Technology companies
Poorly defended systems are easy to exploit, whether it's by sophisticated hackers or disgruntled employees walking out with the company's sensitive data on a USB stick, the researchers said.
Businesses lost almost $1.7 million per billion dollars in sales worldwide compared with the $1.4 million per billion dollars reported in 2009.
A company's own employees are a threat, with fraud more often than not being an "inside job," according to the survey results. Junior employees and senior management were the most likely perpetrators of fraud. Staff or agents were the most common perpetrators of fraud in every region except Latin America, where customers were the principal fraudsters, said the report.
For more, read the eWeek article Electronic Data Theft More Prevalent Than Physical Thefts: Survey.