The AICPA has named Information Security as the top technology issue for 2003. What do you think is the top issue and why

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Security is the top issue. The skills of running a typical business are just not sufficient to deal with computer security. You are either secure or you are not. What is secure today may not be tomorrow. In the security business, you must first assume what you don’t know can and usually will hurt you. The old adage, "The more you know, the more you know you don’t know" has never been truer as in the area of security.

Patrick Wood, CEO
The August Corporation
Grass Valley, Calif.

I agree strongly that Information Security is the top issue for 2003. We have seen attempts to hack and infiltrate our network and the networks of our clients double since the September 11th attack. Although some are just kids trying the tools they can download from the Internet, many are being initiated from other countries. CyberTerrorism is on the rise. All companies should take this risk very seriously, although we all must weigh the business need vs. the risk and cost while doing things such as connecting to the Internet, or hosting our own Web or email server.

Partner Insights

Charles K. Johnson
Elliott Davis Technology Solutions
Augusta, Ga.

I think data storage and data backup rank as high or higher than information security. As more data goes on paperless systems, data storage and instantaneous backup are critical issues.

Bert Doerhoff
Bert Doerhoff CPA
Jefferson City, Mo.

I truly think that Information Security IS the top issue. Without trust and integrity of our systems, we have no business. I recently attended a SANS security conference in San Francisco, and while it certainly was a security conference, it was indeed a "business" conference. We are so connected to our computers, our systems, that without them, we have no business.

Susan E. Bradley, CPA
Tamiyasu, Smith, Horn and Braun
Fresno, Calif.

I absolutely agree that Information Security is the top technology issue due to a number of factors: (1) users are increasingly connected to the Internet 24/7 via some type of broadband connection; (2) hackers and hacking tools are increasingly sophisticated, so the incidence of attack is also rising; (3) vendor applications are moving toward Web-based deployments in current and future versions to allow for anytime/anywhere access; and (4) end users are increasingly mobile. All of these factors coupled together dramatically increase the importance of Information Security, i.e. on-going assurance that information integrity, confidentiality, and availability are intact. In fact, we felt so strongly about Information Security that we agreed someone at the partner level (me) should pursue SANS GSEC (Global Security Essentials Certification).

David M. Cieslak, CPA, CITP, GSEC
Information Technology Group
Encino, Calif.

ROI. Without distinct ROI for technology investments, clients are not moving forward on any initiatives. They are no longer impressed by gee-whiz technology. Today, a solution must add value and positively impact the bottom line. This is true for all areas of technology.

Wayne Schulz
Schulz Consulting
Glastonbury, Conn.

I agree. Most new companies, and those improving their technology, are flocking to the Internet. This is a two-edge sword. The complexity we demand of the Internet is the problem. There are millions of lines of code controlling what we do and who can do it. We want to have all this information available to everyone, but what information should be protected and who should see it? What would happen if the wrong people saw it? We shouldn’t avoid the Internet, but we should let the experts set up and manage it.

Larry Fleming
Master Accounting
Powder Springs, Ga.

Security is an important issue, but not the top issue. Security needs to be done correctly with procedures, firewalls, and other tools, but businesses are concerned about getting the most out of their technology investment in 2003. Spending the IT budget in such a way that it maximizes return is the top issue currently.

Randy Johnston
Network Management Group, K2 Enterprises
Hutchinson, Kan.

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