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Volume 30, Issue 1

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Monday, 19 August 2013 17:20

Avoid the Curses of Technology: Five High-Tech Compliance Challenges Every Auditor Needs to Understand

The myth of King Midas warns us that what we first perceive as a blessing can also be a curse. Turning objects into gold with the slightest touch would be a magnificent power to have, however inadvertently transforming food, family, and friends into gold would be a nightmare. Such is the case with technology. Our interconnected world and seemingly never-ending supply of even “smarter” smart-phones and other devices provides us previously unimaginable power to share our ideas and make our complicated world more manageable. Calling these advantages of technology a blessing hardly seems hyperbolic; and yet, with the good also comes the potential for bad.

For auditors and compliance professionals, both the greatest advantage and the greatest threat of the digital world is big data. By following the digital footprints left by the company around the world, auditors can now seek the truth about employee actions and company operations more objectively and efficiently than ever before. The challenge, however, is in effectively managing the sheer volume of sensitive information that the company and its employees create, share, and store on these powerful devices. For example, an employee’s personal Facebook update could reveal proprietary information; a stolen laptop can be akin to losing control of a safety deposit box; hackers could break into the company’s computer network and export confidential data; companies can lose access to their data that’s stored in the cloud; and then there are the complexities caused by the wild variation in country-specific data privacy laws. It can be enough to make your head spin.