If You Ask Me: A Global Banker Reflects on Our Times

Wriston, Walter B.


Computer Frauds


With all you've got going in electronic technology, isn't there a big risk of computer fraud?

An enormous risk. Stanford Research Institute maintains a catalog of all computer frauds, and it's getting pretty thick. They research every fraud that's discovered--the ones where the horse does not come home. If the horse returns and goes back in the cash drawer, of course, you never know.

There are a lot of prevention systems around. One is a black box that monitors and records every program that's run on the mainframe. It's not foolproof, but it helps. Anyway, centralized computers have gone as far as they can. We're switching to minicomputers. As our minis proliferate out to the branches so does our control problem.

The United States Air Force has done the most work on fraud prevention. They have a payroll system with a band of probability built into it. If the computer shows that ten guys at a base have been promoted to sergeant in one week, the red light goes on because the probability is for only two promotions a week. They have a crazy guy in Texas who spends all his time trying to break the system. We hired a man to do the same for us and to compare notes with the Air Force guy. Computer fraud isn't a major problem, but I have no doubt there's a lot of it around.

The best thing is to set up a good accounting system and a good control system with people looking for anything that doesn't make sense, rather than staring at all the numbers. But it is a growing risk. I agree with you.

  • The document was created from a compilation of interviews and question and answer segments with Walter B. Wriston which was later compiled into "If You Ask Me: A Global Banker Reflects on Our Times" in 1980. The original speech is located in MS134.001.034.00018.
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 Title Page
If You Ask Me: A Global Banker Reflects on Our Times
I: Getting Down to Fundamentals
The Big Cop-out
You Can't Go Bail for Everyone
Risk Is What It's All About
II: Some Basic Ills of the Body Politic
Lincoln Wouldn't Have Made It
Unpredictable Is a Dangerous Country
The Pitfalls of Single-issue Politics
Expect To Get Zapped
The Perils of Legal Pollution
The Injustice of Our Tax System
Those Wonderful People Who Bring You Inflation
Stop the Presses
Silly Premises Lead to Nutty Conclusions
Easier Said Than Done
III: New York, New York
New York City Is Alive And Well
The Road Back
IV: Careers
Rx for Happiness
Good Forward Planning
Dull Job?
A Simple Matter of Survival
Making It at Citibank
What Fast Track?
No Hiding Place
V: Once Around the World Quickly
South Africa
China: A Matter of Timing
The Real Significance of Iran
Iran and the Money Markets
Fashions in Country-criticizing
VI: The Global Financial Scene
The Elusive Eurodollar
De Facto Payments Mechanism
Too Big To Move
The Foreign Exchange Game
They Can't Leave the System
Baskets of Money
Swiss Francs
The Value of a Dollar
Not a Loss Since 1897
A Rational View of LDC Loans
Free Trade Benefits Consumers
The Destructive Costs of Regulation
The Big Rip-off
A Real Entitlement
Can Regulations Prevent Bum Loans?
The Insidious Side of Controls
Competition in Regulation
VIII: The Shape of Things To Come
Not As Big As You Think
What Lobby?
Armageddon Is Late, as Usual
Some Simple Facts about Interest Rates
An Expensive Luxury
How Big Is Big?
What We Did Yesterday Won't Work Tomorrow
A Matter of Semantics
Unpredictable Is a Dangerous Country
Privacy: A Serious Problem
The Unseen Revolution
Things Are Going To Be Different
Take the Handcuffs off Everybody
The Gray Areas of Lending
No Mouse under the Rug
Thank God We Don't Have National Banking
Competition Keeps You Awake
Accounting for Loan Losses
Not a Utility
People Like It
Computer Frauds
Some Final Words on Responsibility
About the Author