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What Is the Role of Information Technology in Economic Crime Forensics?

The pandemic lockdowns triggered an e-commerce tsunami as year-over-year sales in May 2020 surged 77% in month-over-month sales. By one account, “it would’ve taken between 4 and 6 years” to achieve that level at the pre-COVID-19 growth rate.

Cybercriminals followed along, accelerating their assaults on the expanding vulnerabilities, not just in connections between consumers and online sellers but also in global business networks and data-sharing technologies.

Cyber-enabled financial crime has increased precipitously in recent years, according to INTERPOL, and the ongoing rush to digitize personal and professional activities, often across insufficiently secured networks, continues to expand the rich target environment.

Malicious actors — sometimes state-sponsored and increasingly organized crime syndicates — attack those networks. Once inside, they can traffick drugs, launder money, set up fake businesses, steal from ATMs and bank accounts and deceive consumers around the world.

One estimate places the total cost of economic cybercrime to individuals, investors, companies and governments between $1.4 trillion and $3.5 trillion. Another says online extortionists, swindlers, embezzlers and scammers net between 2% and 5% of global GDP.

However, Deloitte says information technology, cybersecurity and forensics experts are adopting new strategies to prevent, detect and prosecute online economic crime. In programs like La Salle University’s online Master of Science (M.S.) in Economic Crime Forensics with a Specialization in IT and Cybersecurity Policy, students learn about these methods and how to adapt and respond to developments in economic cybercrime.

What Are Emerging Trends in Economic Cybercrime?

Cybercrime as a Service (CaaS) is a growing concern among law enforcement, IT, cybersecurity and economic crime forensics experts.

Sophisticated cybercriminals, malware developers and other malicious hackers are adopting business models to sell turnkey economic crime systems and processes to technology-challenged threat actors. According to Packetlabs, those purchased services support the commission of economic crimes by:

  • Enabling cyber extortion. Criminals demand payment via untraceable crypto platforms to return or restore data and networks compromised by ransomware, email ransom or distributed denial of service attacks.
  • Launching ransomware attacks. In the first half of 2022, there were 1 million ransomware attacks worldwide, with the average payouts nearly doubling between 2018 and 2020.
  • Installing keyloggers. The invasion of victims’ devices to monitor and record keystrokes, giving cyber thieves access to usernames, passwords, credit and bank account numbers and other sensitive information.

A central feature of advanced CaaS processes, AI enhances the ability to detect and defeat cybersecurity defenses, optimize phishing attacks, create deep fake personas and deploy blockchain technology to make black-hat actors virtually anonymous.

“But there is good news,” according to Deloitte. “The same technologies that are responsible for creating the present-day digital criminal ecosystem can be harnessed to detect and, in many cases, prevent these crimes before they occur.” Beginning “with the board and top management teams, these key action areas should be agreed upon, communicated, and prioritized across the organization.”

Among its recommendations, the global consultancy advises cybersecurity and information technology professionals to integrate processes to:

  • Increase visibility across corporate, partner and international networks.
  • Promote and strengthen internal and external threat detection, mitigation and recovery collaboration.
  • Deploy advanced analytics and machine learning techniques for precise, timely risk management.

What Is the Outlook for IT Professionals in Economic Crime Forensics?

Global cybersecurity presents a $2 trillion opportunity for IT and service providers or about ten times the size of existing market demand; according to McKinsey & Company, the enormous demand is creating a “global cyber-talent shortage.”

The online M.S. in Economic Crime Forensics – IT and Cybersecurity Policy program from La Salle University equips graduates for high-demand leadership roles to develop and deploy strategies to prevent internet fraud and prosecute economic criminals.

Courses in financial, occupational, computer and internet fraud, cybercrime detection and prevention and forensics litigation support prepare credentialled professionals for investigative careers, including:

  • Fraud examiner
  • Fraud investigator
  • Forensics investigator
  • Compliance auditor

As one of the few programs of its kind in the nation, it prepares graduates with specialized expertise to lead initiatives that detect, combat and reduce the growing threat of economic crime while adhering to financial compliance regulations.

Learn more about La Salle University’s online Master of Science in Economic Crime Forensics with a Specialization in IT and Cybersecurity Policy program.

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