A QUICK LOOK AT…

AIA is publishing a series of articles designed to take a quick look at key topics in accountancy, management and finance. Bookmark this page to update your knowledge when you can grab a spare five minutes. If you would like to suggest subjects for future articles, please contact us.

A QUICK LOOK AT... CYBERCRIME AND ACCOUNTING SYSTEMS

Cybercrime is the major concern of both organisations and governments today. With the advent of cloud computing and Bigdata, the problem has rapidly surrounded across industries and its stakeholders. For accounting functions, any financial loss or threat of data arising from computers and networks will have far-reaching consequences on the day to day workings of an organisation.

In a computer crime, the computer is involved directly or indirectly in committing the criminal act. Sabotage of computer facilities is classified as a direct computer crime and unauthorized access of stored data is an indirect computer crime because the presence of the computer created the environment for committing the crime.

Computers are more vulnerable both internally and externally with a massive amount of data sharing and distribution across networks belonging to organisations using big databases running via cloud-based services and the use of multiple devices operating numerous platforms. Accounting systems are particularly vulnerable to computer crimes because of the nature of data they deal with mainly on the business rules and numbers.

Some of the major reasons for computer crimes are:

Internally, billions of characters of data are stored in organisational databases. People who manage to break into these databases can steal, destroy, or alter massive amounts of data in very little time.

Externally, the reach of organisational data and information has dramatically increased beyond one organisation. Today's organisations want employees, customers, and suppliers and other stakeholders to have access to their system. The number and variety of accessing points significantly increase the risks. Computer programs only need to be changed or modified once without permission for the system to operate improperly for as long as the system is in use. 

Modern systems utilise personal computers (PCs), laptops, and mobile devices which are inherently more vulnerable to security risks. It is difficult to control physical access to each networked PC using internet via wireless connections and Local Area Networks(LANs). In addition, PCs and their data can be lost, stolen, or misplaced.

Computer systems face a number of unique challenges: reliability (i.e., accuracy, completeness), equipment failure, environmental dependency (i.e., power, damage from water or fire), vulnerability to electromagnetic interference and interruption, eavesdropping, and misrouting to name a few.