Study: Identity Theft, Organized Retail Crime On The Rise

Security managers should consider doing more information sharing, nonprofit group says
Identity theft, organized retail crime, and the effects of terrorist attacks are among the most urgent threats facing security managers in the near future, according to a new report issued earlier this week.

The report (PDF) was conducted by the nonprofit Urban Institute's Justice Policy Center and funded by ASIS Foundation, a charitable fund managed by the ASIS International security professionals' association. It offers a broad look into security's crystal ball, including patterns in computer crime, end user behavior, and security staffing.

On the crime trends front, the report projects increases in identity theft, organized retail crime, and new terrorist attacks. "In the next five to 10 years, identity theft and fraud will continue to be the fastest growing crimes," it states. "However, the nature of identity theft is likely to shift to more organized, high-stakes, global attacks."

Organized retail crime (ORC) -- in which criminals steal merchandise from retailers and e-commerce companies via theft or fraud -- also is a key concern, the report says. "Of the crime trends on the horizon, perhaps the greatest threat to future security managers, particularly those in the retail sector, is ORC," the report says. "ORC will continue to grow and become one of the most costly crimes experienced by the security industry. Efforts should begin now to train employees on identifying behaviors associated with ORC activities."

Interestingly, the study warns of the effects of a future terrorist attack -- an event seldom mentioned by enterprise security managers. "Security professionals will be challenged to protect likely future targets, particularly soft targets such as public places, food supplies, and electrical grids," the study says. "Security managers could benefit from considering terrorism prevention in the context of crime prevention, and from implementing flexible and adaptable response management plans."

Another terrorist attack also will likely spur demand for security personnel, the report says. "This need will increase the challenges security managers already experience hiring qualified employees and obtaining sufficient security clearances," it states. "Even line-level security positions require specialized knowledge, generating greater demands for people with specific technical skills. Security professionals will likely need to resort to even more outsourcing to meet staffing needs."

The report urges security managers not to wait for new attacks, but to try to learn about them in advance. "Get ahead of the curve by attending hackers' conventions, and engage in ongoing computer network penetration exercises," the authors advise. "Security experts stressed the importance of thinking like a criminal to catch a criminal."

The report also encourages security managers to build honeypots and honeynets to collect data on attackers' methods and weapons. "This strategy can serve as an early detection systems for possible intrusions and help security professionals identify attack vectors," it says.

Above all, the report says, security managers need to do more collaborative work, sharing information about attacks and defenses, the report advises. "The single most important and overriding tactic put forth [by the authors] is that of collaboration," the report states. "Security managers stand to make the greatest gains in improving the quality of intelligence and increasing the effectiveness of their jobs through the sharing of information and resources with each other, their law enforcement counterparts, and the public."

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Jai Vijayan, Contributing Writer, Dark Reading
Kelly Jackson Higgins 2, Editor-in-Chief, Dark Reading