Robotics – Will the final frontier be fraud free?

Robotic Process Automation (RPA) or intelligent automation (the combination of artificial intelligence and automation) is starting to change the way business is done.

It is the application of technology allowing employees in a company to configure computer software or a ‘robot’ to reason, collect and extract knowledge, recognize patterns, learn and adapt to new situations or environments. RPA leverages recent software abilities made possible by breakthroughs in computing power, including natural language processing, machine vision, and speech recognition. As a result, such systems can detect and produce vast amounts of information and automate entire processes or workflows.

In recent times we are seeing the application of robotics in several sectors. Financial services, for instance, is seeing the adoption of robotics to streamline operations and ensure appropriate levels of control. In the finance and accounting areas, robotics can be used for fixed-asset accounting, to record journal entries, conduct general ledger account reconciliation, perform intercompany transactions, and maintain accounting master data.

While there are obvious benefits to introducing robotics and artificial intelligence into business, there are also potential fraud risks that organizations need to be aware of. There has been a rise in the number of frauds related to high technology corresponding to the rise in the number of individuals, networks, corporate intranets, Internet, National Information Infrastructure, and Global Information Infrastructure access points. More networks mean that more people have access to more information. Some of those who have this access, both legal and illegal, can compromise these systems. High-technology frauds are therefore expected to continue increasing in the future—both in the number of incidents as well as the quantum of impact.

As robotics technology evolves, we expect these frauds to become more sophisticated. Some of the following controls may help mitigate fraud arising from robotics adoption:

  • Putting access controls in place so that only authorized individuals can access information. When necessary, these controls may need to be backed by multi-factor authentication.
  • Data encryption on devices can transform customer information into unreadable text, so when transmitted, it cannot be read by cyber-criminals.
  • Monitoring procedures can be put in place to look for evidence that cybercriminals have accessed, or attempted to access, customer information.
  • If required, environmental hazard protections guard against technology failures or actual physical damage that could leave customer information vulnerable.
  • Supporting devices or equipment (e.g., high-technology devices) can be made available/installed to meet new fraud threats.

You can read more about the potential of robotics and mitigating the risks of adopting it here.
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Authored by: Jayant Saran, Partner, Deloitte India

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