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Electronic forgery is becoming a greater risk as more company information is stored electronically. But many organisations are ignoring the issue.

About 80 per cent of all company information is stored electronically, according to Fran Howarth, Security Practice Leader at Bloor Research, yet the most valuable and sensitive information is most often left unguarded. BT’s principal security consultant, Paul Hanley said: "The issues we have with electronic documents are they are very easy to open, to lend, modify and save. Electronic document forgery is one of the greatest emerging security threats which organisations will need to address."

Falsified corporate information such as financial press releases - as in the Emulex case in 2000 - or the possibility of forged bank statements grab most of the attention. But doctored expense claims and the like are also a potential problem, according to Hanley.

He made his comments during a recent debate on e-document forgery in London organised by Adobe. Figures on the financial impact of e-document forgery were thin on the ground but panelists agree the firms were giving insufficient attention to application or document management risks when formulating security policies. Firms are relying too much on firewalls and anti-virus software, according to Mark Wheeler, European group marketing manager at Adobe.

"A lot of investment has been around the movement of information and stopping people from actually penetrating the company’s ‘castle walls’. What we have been seeing is less investment in actually protecting the core assets, which is the actual documents, information and content that surrounds a business."

Professor Jim Norton, senior policy advisor at the Institute of Directors, reckons a lack of understanding of electronic document forgery and new terminology are confusing the issue.

“We now have old crime [fraud], but a wonderfully enhanced range of tools for carrying it out. It is actually the people part of this that comes to bite you in the rear. Technology can minimise the exposure to this people risk," he said. ®

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