Wednesday, 8 April 2009

A "smart computer" to detect insider trading

Increasingly fraudsters are devising more sophisticated means of committing fraud, and for the technology companies charged with combating fraud, it always seems like they are playing catch-up. But when the nature of the fraud is more insidious, the challenge is greater, as is the case with insider fraud.

Fraud committed from the inside is more difficult to contend with than external threats. As a company how do you identify who is likely to commit fraud within your organisation? How do you give employees access to applications and systems they need to do their job, without locking everything down or introducing a 'Big Brother' culture?

At the University of Sunderland, they are working on a new "smart computer" that uses artificial intelligence and "headline analysis techniques" to try and detect suspicious share dealing. Insider trading or rogue trades have long plagued the capital markets and some stats suggest that upwards of 20% of deals in the UK, and 40% in the US, may be tainted.

The "smart computer" project at Sunderland is entitled CASSANDRA (Computerised Analysis of Stocks and Shares for Novelty Detection of Radical Activities) and it has been awarded £90,000 by Northstar Funding to investigate the merits of combining artificial intelligence and analysis techniques to combat financial fraud.

Dr Dale Addison, project manager, CASSANDRA, says the problem with current anti-fraud systems is that they generate too many 'false positives'. "As many as 75% false positive flagging has been observed by some systems," he says.

CASSANDRA on the other hand looks at news stories affecting a particular company. So for example if two companies are in the process of merging and someone finds out the merger is not going ahead, they may go out and buy and or sell that company's stock based on that inside knowledge.

According to Addison, CASSANDRA would be able to detect that based on its analysis of news events from Reuters, Bloomberg and other sources, as well as the movement of stocks and shares of a specific company. "This system will have the ability to allow users to look at news information and rank it according to how significant an impact it has had on share dealing." But how do you know which piece of news or information has altered trading in a particular stock?

Information on US and UK stock markets is being provided to the Sunderland team by Canadian company, Measured Markets,which provides an "early warning" analysis service alerting investors when a stock's trading pattern changes.

Dr Addison plans to build a bigger computer that can be used to detect market abuse or false and exaggerated news that helps traders earn more money.

1 comment:

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