As the NHS reels from the aftermath of the recent cyber-attack, which saw 200,000 computers attacked in over 150 countries, it’s clear that the need to implement secure cyber security protocols is of paramount importance. Businesses across all sectors will need to work quickly to ensure they remain protected against future attacks. And for many this will mean upgrading their systems as necessary. So what does this mean for accountants?
Accounting teams remain particularly at risk and vulnerable to cyber extortion and potential attacks. And with current data showing that some 1.3 million computer systems still remain vulnerable to infection by the Wanna Cry virus – clearly the threat has yet to dissipate. With the continued rise of the cloud for storing data and managing systems, the increase in BYOD (“bring your own device”) into the office and the increasingly sophisticated approach that cyber criminals are taking, there is no time to lose for accounting teams to ensure that their systems remain protected.
There will be a real need to re-assess IT budgets to see if they remain strategically aligned to the overall business objectives. Objectives that should now incorporate the ever growing threat posed by cyber-attacks and include necessary budget provision. Clearly then, it will be crucial to ensure that the IT team is keeping the senior management team appraised of ongoing developments in the health of the IT systems as co-ordinated attacks across the global may occur at any time. IT and accounting teams will need to make a concerted effort to “speak the same language” as well as understand both side’s objectives, in an effort to closely manage the threat level. And this means they need to work more closely together than ever before.
Employers will increasingly be on the look for accountants who can not only demonstrate the ability to effectively communicate with the IT function, but who also have had exposure to data breach or a cyber-attack scenario in the past. Consequently, candidates who possess an in-depth understanding of data security will be particularly sought after as employers place an ever greater focus on protecting their accounting systems. While none of us can predict the future, one thing is sure, this threat won’t be going away any time soon. It’s here to stay and while the doomsayers have been predicting an attack on this scale for some time, what Wanna Cry has shown us in the UK is the impact and chaos it can have on our everyday lives. It’s one that businesses and individuals ignore at their peril.
If you are an accountant seeking a new role, then maybe we should be talking.
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