By Warner Johnston, head of ACCA USA
As we head deeper into the 21st century, it is already clear that developments in digital technologies are going to affect the world even more radically over the next 20 years than in the last 20 years. As new digital technologies emerge and converge they will reshape lifestyles and business activities, how economies develop, and how countries are governed, in revolutionary ways.
Digital Darwinism: thriving in the face of technology change, is a report by ACCA and IMA that focuses on the top ten technology trends that could impact the finance profession. One of the trends identified was cybersecurity; a topic that we’ve been focusing on in the United States over the past two years.
Information is now collected, stored and shared using numerous software and devices. Unfortunately, reliance on these digital technologies exposes individuals, organisations and entire countries to a host of both deliberate and non-malicious threats. Theft of digital information has overtaken physical theft as the most commonly reported fraud, and the relative insecurity of the small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) is making them a growing focus for cyber-attacks. As ever more products and services are provided, sourced and accessed online the security of data and systems becomes increasingly complex and their governance becomes increasingly important.
All organisations need to:
- understand the nature and likelihood of cyber-threats
- identify, assess and mitigate existing and emerging risks
- implement and maintain strong controls and policies to govern data privacy and security
- educate users on emerging risks, such as those associated with mobile devices and social media
- plan for increasing complexity, and
- make technological risk a board-level concern.
Cybersecurity is an area where an organisation can achieve limited outcomes by working alone. To combat emerging cybercrimes effectively and catch and punish attackers; companies, industries and governments will need to collaborate to:
- share information on cybercrime, and
- create consistent, uniform and better global regulations.
These steps will enable them to provide citizens and businesses with appropriate protection from cyber-attacks. In order to effectively combat the growing range of emerging cybercrimes and catch and punish attackers, companies, industries and governments will need to collaborate to:
- cooperate and share information on cybercrime
- create consistent, uniform and better global regulations, and
- provide citizens and businesses with appropriate protection from cyber-attacks.
Cybersecurity has become so complex and multifaceted that expertise is needed just to understand many of the risks, before the viability of the products and services that promise to address them can be considered. Accountants are acutely aware of the need to take adequate steps to protect computer systems and data against a growing range of deliberate and accidental cyber-risks. In the research cybersecurity was the leading technology priority, and 79% of respondents expect the need to assess, protect and mitigate cyber-risks to increase in significance over 2014–15.
On the face of it, there seems to be an association between security concerns and action to address risk, but what appears to prompt such initiatives is not the awareness of specific risks but the feeling that risks in general are multiplying, becoming more threatening and leading to higher losses.
Read more about the technology trends that are impacting on the accounting profession at http://roleofcfo.com/
Also learn more about Dr. Darren Hayes, CIS Program Chair at Seidenberg School of CSIS at Pace University – a key ACCA USA partner in our cybersecurity research, and a participant in the Digital Darwinism report by ACCA and IMA.