Tuesday, January 1, 2013

FORENSICS IN BUSINESS: Dangerous Times!

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Forensics experts are needed for the dangerous new times that accompany major financial and natural crises. Forensic accountants, appraisers and IT professionals are needed to be incorporated as a budgeted expense item (perhaps as part of increased risk reserves for contingency planning), or as consultants/contractors to businesses of every size -- from the smallest early-stage venture making presentations to prospective investors to older, larger, well-established organizations. Forensic science is no longer exclusively the province of late night television shows ("ION Television. Positively entertaining.")

New career paths will be developing centered around or conjoined with forensic knowledge (i.e, forensic accountants, auditors, programmers, and IT professionals) in a world where there are too many fiscal cliffs, too many areas of exposure to damage and data security breaches, and business interruption and asset losses from natural disasters [like Hurricane Sandy, for example] -- all of which have traditionally been mitigated to some extent by insurance, or by some government assistance. By the way expect less and less of these last two as easy lines of defense. Here's why:

1) Insurance companies are imposing a tremendous burden of proof of loss on their insured clients, who practically have to do battle in order to get a legitimate claim proven (to a ever-higher expert and legal standard) and actually paid in full; and

2) Government agencies, like FEMA, the SBA and their state counterparts do not have adequate resources to verify and to pay out claims - my theory, as Douglas E. Castle writing for both The Business And Project Planning And Management Blog and The Global Futurist Blog, as well as for a host of CrowdFunding and business plan presentation blogs, is that your claim will receive faster attention and earlier, available resources (which are becoming increasingly limited) for your loss recovery if you have excellent forensic documentation and are represented by a legal expert. The only other alternative, in terms of real-world economic pragmatism, is to be a very large, very politically-connected employer of many individuals - particularly in these times of heavy recession.

Here's the basic business definition of forensic science, as set forth in Wikipedia, one of everybody's favorite sources of anecdotal and scientific information [being sarcastic...Wikipedia is a fabulous resource for all to use]:

Forensic science (often shortened to forensics) is the application of a broad spectrum of sciences and technologies to investigate and establish facts of interest in relation to criminal or civil law.[1] The word forensic comes from the Latin forēnsis, meaning "of or before the forum."[2] In Roman times, a criminal charge meant presenting the case before a group of public individuals in the forum. Both the person accused of the crime and the accuser would give speeches based on their sides of the story. The individual with the best argument and delivery would determine the outcome of the case. This origin is the source of the two modern usages of the word forensic – as a form of legal evidence and as a category of public presentation.

In modern use, the term "forensics" in the place of "forensic science" can be considered correct as the term "forensic" is effectively a synonym for "legal" or "related to courts". However the term is now so closely associated with the scientific field that many dictionaries include the meaning that equates the word "forensics" with "forensic science".
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Here's the Merriam-Webster Definition of "forensics" as of today, January 1st, 2013:

Definition of FORENSIC

1: an argumentative exercise
2 plural but sing or plural in constr : the art or study of argumentative discourse
3 plural but sing or plural in constr : the application of scientific knowledge to legal problems; especially : scientific analysis of physical evidence (as from a crime scene)
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Forensic occupations as well as forensic applications [are your techies and geeks listening?] will be on the rise over the next several years, driven by increased demand

Some supporting information extracted from news aggregators and publishers IDC and TechRepublic will give you further insight into the gravity of the situation:

TechRepublic
Making sense of computer forensics
       
         Alfonso Barreiro goes over the basics of computer forensics that all IT pros should know. Preparing your organization for the possibility of a legal investigation should be part of any security incident and response plan. Read more

Sandy highlights need for forensic accountants
A significant portion of the estimated $50 billion in economic losses caused by superstorm Sandy likely will be related to a lack of business-interruption insurance at many companies. Companies that do have business-interruption insurance would be wise to bring in a forensic accountant to help with documentation, a top insurer says. Other companies are using forensic accountants to determine potential exposure before an event.  The Wall Street Journal/CFO Journal (tiered subscription model) (11/2), ClaimsJournal.com/Reuters (11/15)





MORE:

Top lessons learned from recent high profile hacks
           
            Organizations we assume have all their ducks in a row when it comes to network security often don't. These six incidents, and the lessons to be learned from them, are examples of why it's so important to take security seriously. Read more
                              
Researchers find iOS is rich target for spying software
           
            The popularity of Apple devices makes them a prime target for spying programs, malware, and simple thievery. Read more

Security report: Enterprises place reckless trust in third-party software suppliers
           
            Veracode's Supplemental to their State of Software Security Report shows most dangerous security flaws in existence are among the most prevalent vulnerabilities in third-party vendor applications - while few enterprises have vendor application security testing programs in place. Read more


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Bottom Line:  Make forensic expertise an element of your training, of your business plan, and of your budget. As my father used to say: "Let's hope for the best, but plan for the worst."

Be an optimist if you like - but don't be a fool.

Thank you as always for reading me, re-tweeting me, and completing me - although I am still a very-much unfinished work.

Douglas E. Castle

p.s. Mark your calendars! On January 11th, 2013, the website for CFI - CrowdFunding Incubator LLC - goes live. You're invited.





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