Follow the money: the importance of forensic computing in accounting
Although some accountants may not know the term ‘forensic computing’, it is a more important part of their jobs – particularly for auditors – than they potentially realize. Forensic computing is the process of collecting and analyzing data and information through scientific methods, that can be used as evidence. This evidence may prove to be useful during investigations in, for example, suspected fraud cases. It wouldn’t be the first time that evidence found during forensic computing serves as legal evidence in civil and criminal cases.
Forensic computing fulfills an important role. Although, it has to be taken into account that evidence used in a case against an employee and brought to court must meet certain conditions. An essential part of these conditions is the chain of custody. The chain of custody describes all evidence found, how this evidence is found and who has touched or processed this evidence.
Role of the accountant in forensic computing
Accountants still wondering why they play such an important role in forensic computing should know that no other external party knows an organization as well as they do. Accountants are highly familiar with corporate information systems, policies and procedures, internal controls and measures and (almost always) possess advanced analytical skills. Accountants recognize and understand the normal ‘day-to-day’ routine of companies and will probably be able to notice deviations in these processes right away.
Nowadays, with the ever increasing importance of (financial) IT, most fraud cases are committed through the usage of digital systems and applications. Given that accountants are responsible for finding fraud, they should be able to both recognize and take appropriate actions in order to bring these cases of fraud to light. Therefore it is imperative that accountants (especially auditors) must at least have some basic abilities to obtain, manage and analyze digital forensic information without (un)knowingly tampering with evidence.
Given the fact that forensic computing may not be that well known or popular among accountants, the role of IT auditors becomes even more important. IT auditors have extended knowledge on the workings of IT. Most IT auditors have (basic) knowledge about forensic computing, or will be able to learn and understand quickly because they are already familiar with IT.
Is your organization struggling with a question regarding forensic computing or IT? Please don’t hesitate and contact the IT Advisory department of Crowe Peak.