Earlier this year, one of the Big Four accountancy firms sent out a presentation to clients warning them of the dangers of cyber attacks. The firm’s systems quickly picked up that the document had been hacked into.
The irony of this incident highlights both the priority accountancy firms are giving to cyber security, and the vulnerability to cyber attacks embedded in their day-to-day activities.
Chief executives and company boards have gone from having “an anecdotal understanding” of cyber security to seeing it as “a key item on the agenda”, says Simon Collins, UK chairman of KPMG.
Traditionally, cyber security for businesses has been dominated by technology companies, from the older antivirus makers such as Intel Security, formerly McAfee, and Symantec, to a new generation of threat detection companies such as FireEye.
But as the issue climbs fast up the corporate agenda, and the complexity of cyber attacks from unseen enemies increases, accountancy firms are looking at beefing up these services, recruiting more people to cope with the demand for advice.
“We’re now in a market where academia, governments and competitors are all looking for the same people. But the bad guys are looking for the same people too,” says Ken Allan, a partner in information security at EY.
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