Smith & Howard Hosts Cybersecurity Event for Businesses & Nonprofits

Staff Report From Metro Atlanta CEO

Friday, February 28th, 2020

On February 18, business professionals throughout Georgia gathered to attend Smith & Howard’s cybersecurity event, Understanding and Tackling the Cybersecurity Threat. The keynote speaker for the event was former Governor Tom Ridge, the first United States Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security and now alliantgroup Chairman of Cybersecurity and Technology. A panel of cybersecurity experts followed his message with a discussion about the threats faced by anyone connected to the Internet.

“The average impact of a data breach on a business is well over six figures,” said Marc Azar, event host and Smith & Howard Tax Practice Leader. “That is why we organized this event. It is necessary for businesses and nonprofits to learn more in order to be prepared and better protected against this fast-growing threat.”

According to Governor Ridge, business leaders need to realize that cyber risk is not just a technical problem – it is a business challenge. The dollars spent on cyber defense must be seen as an investment, not an expense.

Following Governor Ridge’s message, a panel featuring former Congressman Rick Lazio, Marvin Willis, Partner in Charge of Smith & Howard’s Accounting and Advisory practice, Cyber Liability Specialist Ralph Pasquariello and Smith & Howard’s Enterprise Risk Security (ERS) manager Martha Raber took to the stage. The panelists pointed out that an increasing volume of business email is being compromised because of the use of sophisticated artificial intelligence (AI). Even high-profile security companies can fall for AI scams, making it more difficult for businesses to thwart the attacks. People need to be cognizant of everything coming their way via email and always verify the authenticity of an unusual or unexpected request. The panelists emphasized that organizations need to ensure their employees receive continuous training to prevent hackers gaining access through phishing schemes.

“We gathered these experts to offer insights into what businesses and nonprofits can do to fully protect themselves and their customers or clients. It is imperative that we all take the increasingly aggressive cyberattacks seriously and investigate ways to incorporate risk management in our operations,” concluded Marc Azar.