After several years of relatively stable numbers the rate of economic crime in Canada took a leap in 2017, according to numbers from PriceWaterhouse Coopers.

Fifty-five per cent Canadian respondents reported experiencing economic crime in the last 24 months, the consulting company reported Wednesday, compared to 37 per cent in 2016, and 36 per cent in 2014.

Cyber crime (46 per cent), asset misappropriation (38 per cent) and consumer fraud (36 per cent) were the most frequently reported crimes.

Within cyber crime, phishing (58 per cent) was the most reported problem in the previous 24 months, followed by malware (45 per cent) and network scanning (20 per cent).

The Canadian numbers were part of PWC’s annual global survey on economic crime.

Nearly half (48 per cent) of Canadian respondents predicted that cybercrime will be the most disruptive force to their organization in the next two years.

The Canadian report concludes from these and other numbers that while economic crime is up, the defence measures necessary to detect and prevent it can — and should — be improved and strengthened across Canadian organizations.

Here’s one notable reason: Only half of the respondents run drills at least annually to rehearse their cyber response plans. Thirty-eight per cent of respondents neglected to perform a risk assessment for cyberattack vulnerability in the last two years, the report adds.

PWC believes Canadian companies are lagging in the use of disruptive technologies —  only 12 per cent of respondents are currently using or have plans
to use artificial intelligence (AI) in the next 12 months to help combat fraud and economic crime. And while a majority of Canadian organizations (69 per cent) have a formal business ethics and compliance program in place, only 30 per cent said they make verifying and promoting their employees’ ethical decision-making a top priority.

“In order to stay competitive and innovate in the digital world, Canadian organizations need to revisit their cybercrime program to balance risk and opportunity,” the report says..

“Looking at the data, it’s clear that fighting fraud today requires a shift from macro to micro measures. Companies can no longer rely solely on the loss prevention department or IT reports to detect fraud — they need sophisticated, targeted controls that can be continuously monitored for their effectiveness at all possible touch points, across functional teams, from the back office to the front lines of their business.”

In a separate report, PWC said Canada’s big six banks (TD Bank, Royal Bank, CIBC, Scotiabank, Bank of Montreal and National Bank) recognize the challenges of meeting innovation in the financial sector and ensuring cyber security risks are faced.

“They’re making good progress,” Sajith Nair, a partner in PWC’s cybersecurity and privacy practice, said in an interview Wednesday. “Generally speaking countries like Israel and the U.S. are recognized as leaders [in the banking sector] but Canadain banks are not far behind.” Where they do shine, he added, is in internal collaboration (that is, between departments) and with each other. “The level of collaboration I’ve seen at Canadian banks is really at a level on par or better than the global tiers in other countries.”

That level of collaboration is something organizations in other Canadian sectors could learn from, he added.

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