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Report: Accountants Must Do More to be at Forefront of Cyber Security


Report Accountants Must Do More to be at Forefront of Cyber SecurityA new report released by the ACCA USA, the U.S. arm of the Association of Chartered Certified Accountants, and Pace University says that accountants must do more to be at the forefront of cyber security in order to safeguard the sensitive personal and corporate financial information they handle. The report’s findings are based on surveys of ACCA professionals, including CFOs, managing directors, senior vice presidents and practicing accountants.

The report points to weak communication between line managers and senior managers about attacks and attempted attacks. It suggests fundamental risk management cyber security practices should be applied more consistently throughout some firms.

Dr. Jonathan Hill, interim dean at Pace’s Seidenberg School of Computer Science and Information Systems, stated that, as clients and consumers are more aware than ever of the cyber vulnerability of all businesses, protecting their sensitive information is imperative among those in the accounting industry. “Nobody takes this more seriously than financial professionals because they are trusted with this information,” said Hill. “We’re at a point now with these huge break-ins that are so prevalent in the media. Barely a day goes by when we don’t learn of a Fortune 500 company or a government agency that has had some type of cyber break-in. State legislatures, for example, are driven to find someone to hold accountable, and they’re looking at those very same financial professionals.”

The findings highlighted a number of important areas of improvement among those surveyed:

  • Nearly 50% indicated it was somewhat or very likely that consultants would be hired after a breach.
  • Nearly 70% said they had a high or very high level of awareness of their company’s cyber risk management policies and procedures.
  • 57% said their IT systems were well protected against cyber threats.
  • 32% had no knowledge of company policy on data encryption in transit or in storage.
  • Auditors are more concerned about cybercrime today than a year ago (58% for auditors compared with 48% for accountants).
  • Only 27% of accountants felt their firms adhered to Control Objectives for Information and Related Technologies (COBIT 5) standards, whereas 43% of auditors believed their firms followed the standards. COBIT is a supporting toolset that allows managers to bridge the gap between control requirements, technical issues and business risks.

Like other industries, the report cites that there are gaps between the realities of day-to-day practice and the theory of cyber security best practices, with many firms having to do more in terms of training their employees to help protect their organizations from a cyber attack. Also, it is essential that firms be prepared in the event of a cyber attack, including having in place the protocols for client notification, crisis management and other critical steps.

In addition, it’s vital that accounting practices carry Privacy & Network Security/Cyber Liability insurance to respond should a breach occur and help pay for the significant expenses involved. Cyber Liability insurance provides a number of key coverages to address the varied exposures firms face. What’s important is having a cyber insurance specialist put together a program designed for your firm. At Axis Insurance Services, we specialize in Cyber Liability insurance, working with a number of top-tier insurance companies to tailor policies specifically for our customer needs. Give us a call at (877) 787-5258 to discuss our cyber insurance solutions.

 

Source: Accounting Technology, ACCA USA

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Blogged on: September 28, 2015 by Mike Smith
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