Friday 29 October 2010

Scottish Financial Crime Group Conference Highlights

This year's SFCG Conference was held at the Corn Exchange in Edinburgh yesterday and was a great success, with a wide range of delegates from Financial Services, Consultants, Vendors, Academia, Public Sector and Law Enforcement (Scottish and Welsh police, and the FBI)

For me the key highlights included:

A presentation by Robert Hartman of KPMG on Bribery and Corruption in the Financial Sector. Some very worrying statistics, but also a down to earth approach to the problem. Robert also highlighted to useful sources of information: Transparency International and Trace Compendium.

A presentation on the risks around Social Media by DI Keith McDevitt of the SCDEA, a topic which is close to my heart and one which 7 Elements plan to present on to one of the winter New Media Breakfast Briefings. Lots of interest in this area, and I had a good discussion with a number of delegates afterwards.

The launch of the e-crime Scotland website - with a huge amount of support from the Welsh Assembly Government, who launched theirs some time ago, Scotland now has it's own portal for information on e-crime, a reporting mechanism, and a gateway into the topic.

There was also a surprise talk by Professor Martin Gill, of the University of Leicester, who stepped in when one speaker was held up in transit. He spends a lot of his time interviewing criminals in prison and taking them to the crime scene to demonstrate how and why they commit their crimes. Some of his findings seem very non-intuitive, for example when confronted with the automatic lights homeowners may have fitted to the outside of the house, most burglars use them to scope out the property, identifying tools, escape routes, entry points etc. Not one stated it would put them off, as no-one ever checks when an automatic light comes on! Similarly CCTV was not seen as an issue.

Another useful point which came up was that when asked what they thought the likelihood of getting caught was (when given the options high, medium, low, none) they laughed at the question and said "zero likelihood" otherwise they wouldn't commit the crime, so the corollary to this is if we can persuade offenders that they will get caught at the time they are about to commit the crime then they are very unlikely to do it.

Although his talk was mostly about burglars, shoplifters and murderers, the same concepts hold true for white collar crime, so can we find ways to make criminals less certain they will get away with it at the time?

A member of the local fraud squad did tell me his solution was to push for removal of property under the Proceeds of Crime act, as going in to prison without the reward of a couple of million pounds at the end of the term can suddenly be a less enjoyable prospect, and letting criminals know that 'getting away' with a small stretch is no longer profitable can be a valuable deterrent.

Caught up with Lindsay Hamilton of Cervello - his company carries out database auditing (in fact he has joined forces with The Pete Finnegan to offer an awesome tool for Oracle auditing)

Some interesting exhibitors this year - M86 Security (the guys who incorporated Finjan into their product line) had some good chat around secure web gateways.

It was as ever a great networking opportunity - I always meet a lot of old friends and colleagues, as well as clients old and new, and these events give a good chance to catch up. One individual surprised me, as out of context I did not recognise her - a detective constable with the Specialist Fraud Unit. Turns out she sings with the Lothian and Borders Police Choir (who I play session guitar for on an occasional basis)

Rory Alsop

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