Companies risk security breaches, corruption and bribery due to COVID-19

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Companies risk security breaches, corruption and bribery due to COVID-19

As the Coronavirus pandemic continues to take its toll around the world, companies are at risk of facing security breaches, as well as bribery and corruption, according to two reports released today.

A joint report from security non-profit AusCERT and consulting firm BDO reveals that the increasing adoption of flexible working arrangements would make the complexities in identifying and addressing security issues more complex.

The changes have also resulted in a 56 percent increase in data breaches from 2018 to 2019, with the Office of the Australian Information receiving 964 data breach notifications from April 2018 to March 2019.

“Most insider threats are not necessarily malicious and more commonly the result of human error, however, this internal threat cannot be underestimated,” BDO national cyber security leader Leon Fouche said.

The report also found companies continue to underestimate the cause of security incidents, with insider threats twice as common as expected.

But the report also revealed more companies have increased their security measures, with many shifting from off-the-shelf software to organisation-wide governance; hired chief information security officers (up 46 percent from 2018); and purchased cyber insurance.

Meanwhile Deloitte is warning of a potential spike in bribery and corruption among companies, their workforces and executives due to the “unique and intense commercial pressures” from the Coronavirus outbreak.

The consulting giant found that one in 20 ANZ organisations have unclear approaches to bribery which do not specify ‘no tolerance’; ANZ orgs worry more about their people receiving bribes than paying them; and that there’s “some significant growth” in conflicts of interest over the past five years.

“As markets reel from the impact of COVID-19, uncertainty and anxiety may well trigger an increase in risky behaviour,” Deloitte forensic director Oliver May said.

“As the threat to livelihoods accelerates, so do the vulnerabilities to dishonesty. Fraudsters, cybercriminals, organised crime groups and corrupt individuals will test an organisation’s commitment to integrity.”

May added that employers should have anti-bribery policies and programs in place to help support their people, organisations and the wider community.

Deloitte Forensic APAC managing director Chris Noble said business leaders should recognise this period as a time where their ethics will “be well and truly tested”.

“Clear, confident, unequivocal communication is so important to ensure the sustainability of your business and protect its reputation,” Noble said. “The decisions leaders make now will affect their organisations long after the crisis has passed.”

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