As Online Fraud Increases, So Do Tech Job Opportunities

People with a combination of tech and forensic smarts are growing in demand.

By Sonia R. Lelii
| October 2008


Digital
fraud offers emerging career opportunities for IT workers who are
interested in combining their talents as a computer investigator with
their general business smarts. 

Although
it often involves financial theft, digital fraud isn’t always about
financial gain, notes Jean-Francois Legault, a senior manager at
Deloitte & Touche in Montreal who specializes in the area.
Oftentimes, he says, cyber criminals face some type of financial
pressure, such as high personal debt, and are looking for opportunities
to dig themselves out.

Watch the video.

 

It’s
a growing problem in this age where corporate finance, purchases of all
kinds, accounting and money in general are interconnected. And, it
doesn’t necessarily decrease with an economic downturn. Recently, The
Wall Street Journal reported the number of cyber attacks taking place
often surge on days the stock market drops. Ryan Sherstobitoff, chief
corporate evangelist at Spanish anti-malware firm Panda Security, told
the Journal that while the goal of most attacks is to steal
information, the attacks linked to such market drops are designed to
trick people into making fraudulent purchases.

To
counter these acts, Legault sees a need for people who are able to take
on the role of cyber financial cop – professionals whose talent
encompasses technical skill, business know-how, and a specialty in
computer forensics. In particular, there’s a growing need for computer
fraud specialists.

Where
information security tends to focus on preventing misdeeds, fraud
specialists are often focused on piecing together evidence of a crime
after it’s happened, with an eye toward identifying perpetrators and
gathering the information that could be used against them in court.

"Fraud
often occurs as a result of a security breach, when there is a lack of
internal controls," notes Legault. For example, if someone has forged
wire transfers to a fictitious company, a tech specialist would work
with forensic accountants, translating the accounting issues into
events and behaviors that are found in computer-based behaviors. As
Legault describes it: "I need to be able to have discussions with
forensic accountants and translate that into how it renders on a
computer. For instance, what could be the evidence? Where do I find
this on the computer?"

Another
emerging job click-fraud specialist, says Kathy Lavinder, executive
director of the Bethesda, Maryland-based Security & Investigative
Placement Consultants, LLC, a headhunting agency for security and
investigative personnel. When one company uses a software program to
drive up the number of clicks made on a competitors pay-per-click
advertising program, "it’s someone doing it for the wrong reasons, to
cause a (negative) financial impact," she says.

Not
many people have the background to become a click fraud specialist,
despite the growing need for their services, Lavinder points out. A
click-fraud specialist should have a computer security background, –
often obtained through military training – and the ability to trace
events, much as would be done in criminal forensics. "It’s a complex
forensics data trail that they need to be able to follow," Lavinder
says.

"This still is an area
where we are working on a technical solution to a 21st Century
problem," she explains. "Financial institutions are on the cutting edge
of this. More and more are building internal teams to deal with this
rather than relying on consultants."

Sonia R. Lelii is a technology writer for Dice.com. She can be reached at sonia.lelii@dice.com.

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