Sep 15 2023
Data Analytics

How to Better Bolster Government Efforts Against Fraud, Waste and Abuse

Why state and local agencies need to break down data silos and unify their operations to combat criminal activity.

Fraud in the U.S. government isn’t exactly news. In fact, its rising prevalence has been souring efforts to fight against the exploitation of state-run programs on technical and financial fronts for years.

Recent global circumstances such as the COVID-19 pandemic have made dealing with this issue even more challenging. Since the pandemic began in March 2020, unemployment insurance benefits fraud alone has cost 23 states an estimated total of $60.4 billion. But, to properly address fraud, officials must first understand its source.

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How Fraud Has Grown to Be a Significant Problem

The reality is that organized crime is behind the exponential growth of fraud.

Fraud is no longer a one-off attack, and nation-states are to blame for its sophistication. Cybercriminals today don’t distinguish between fraud and cyberattacks. Instead, they seek flaws in government systems that allow them to achieve a profit. For example, the urgency to expedite stimulus checks during the pandemic without careful attention to identification drove poor decision-making and created a window for criminals to obtain those funds.

As fraud rises in sophistication, the only true way for government agencies to prevail is by changing their mindset on the issue altogether.

Dealing with fraud constitutes rebranding the issue as a cybersecurity problem. Finding solutions to fraud is not easy. But by starting with believing that fraud is not an individual crime but an organized crime, the government can ensure it has the right protections in place.

LEARN MORE: How smart cities can leverage the power of digital twins.

Identifying Solutions To Better Prevent Fraud, Waste And Abuse

Break down government silos to improve fraud defenses. The government can be slow to deliver solutions to fraud, and they often get caught up in politics. Traditionally, fraud departments handle fraud attacks, while security departments handle cyberattacks. However, as fraud escalates to organized crime, fraud teams may not be the best equipped to stop these sophisticated attacks. Fraud and cybersecurity departments must merge. Unification will give both access to more tools and skills to fight fraud. For example, when a fraud tool picks up suspicious IP activity, the team can further investigate that activity on cybersecurity systems to determine the severity of the incident. Without this unification, the siloed nature of fraud and cyber teams can cause a visibility gap that allows fraud to proliferate. The combined efforts and knowledge of these teams can help agencies take the first step toward tackling the government's fraud problem.

Improve understanding of disparate data. The next step in responding to fraud efforts is to implement the tech to handle disparate data. Fraud data comes from an array of disparate sources, which can cause critical signals to go missed. The government’s best chance at identifying malicious threat actors is for agencies to adopt new technology to truly manage the program. This starts with merging siloed data between cyber and financial systems to provide more visibility into the data.

Government teams can create a data fusion center. This center merges data across different tools to give professionals a singular place to catch inconsistencies as they occur. Being able to see the data allows government agencies to identify and take the proper steps against attacks more proactively.

Evolve to become stronger than fraud. Combating fraud can seem like a impossible job. While fraud is pervasive, the fight against it is not futile. Advancements in real-time analytics must be integrated into government systems to keep up with the rise of fraud.

Although these threats continue to diversify alongside emergent technologies, a unified approach to combating fraud can result in a better offense and defense against the growth of organized nation-state fraud.

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