Last week approximately 130 members of the Maryland Association of Certified Public Accountants (MACPA) gathered in Linthicum, MD for the 2017 Business and Industry annual conference. I had the honor of presenting a session on emerging cyber security threats and practical risk management tips. The goals of the session was to arm the accounting professionals with the latest information on cyber threats, risk management best practices and lessons learned that they could take back to their organizations and share with their clients. The session attendees were highly engaged and eager to learn how they can shift their organization’s and clients’ data to being safe and secure using the 3 pillars approach.
Throughout the session, the attendees were polled on a variety of topics that include cyber threats and risk assessments. Only 53% of the survey respondents have performed an assessment in the past 12 months although an assessment is an integral part of developing an organization’s cyber security program.
Attendees were also polled on what they perceived to be their greatest cyber threats. 56% of respondents indicated that employee negligence and business email compromise were viewed as the greatest threats that their organizations face. One alarming survey response was that none of the attendees listed phishing as one of their top threats. This is in spite of the fact that it is the most prolific and successful attack vector utilized by hackers. This may explain why 46% of the attendee’s firms have experienced a data breach in the past 12 months!
One topic we discussed was data breach notification laws which vary by state. This is particularly important to CPA firms since they typically service clients across several states. 92% of the attendees polled have clients in more than six states which means that in the event of a data breach they would potentially need to notify six separate state attorneys general.
Despite the above survey results I was encouraged by the level of interest and engagement from the session attendees. Based on the number of questions and range of topics they had a genuine concern about keeping their organization and clients’ data safe and secure. MACPA is leading the charge with providing CPA’s with access to the resources and knowledge they need to properly safeguard their organization and client data.
If you would like to learn more about how you can protect your organization’s data, please CONTACT US.