CFOs increase spending on cyber-security

More than two-thirds of finance executives at technology companies have increased their spending on cyber-security measures during the past year, a recent survey shows.

Most CFOs in an annual survey by accounting and consulting firm BDO said the main response to cyber-security concerns was the implementation of new software security tools (90%) and the creation of a formal response plan for security breaches (72%).

But it’s not just the tech CFOs who are concerned about the possibility of a data breach.

Sixty-three per cent of finance executives in a broader survey said their top response to the increased threat of data breaches was spending more on cyber-security and fraud prevention. In that survey, part of the AICPA’s quarterly Business & Industry Economic Outlook, 29% said they had not made any changes, 13% said they were accelerating the development of new mobile or electronic payment options that could offer more security, and 5% listed an unspecified other response.

In the AICPA survey, respondents were, in general, planning for cyber-attacks that hadn’t yet happened; 74% said their companies had not been the victim of an attack that they knew of in the previous two years.

The BDO survey, of 100 U.S. tech CFOs, indicated that hiring is expected to continue. Ninety-six per cent expect the number of employees at their companies to increase or remain the same. That’s up from 91% a year ago and 88% in 2013.

Other findings in the BDO survey:

  • Twenty-seven per cent of tech CFOs said the ability to attract and retain labour was their greatest business challenge this year, and 23% said a lack of skilled workers will be the biggest barrier to overall industry growth.
  • Fourteen per cent said global political issues would be the leading barrier to industry growth in 2015.
  • Tech CFOs said the top drivers of industry growth were consumer demand for innovative personal technology (38%), followed by an economic rebound in the US (25%) and international expansion (20%).
  • Fifty-seven per cent of tech CFOs had not yet familiarised themselves with the proposed revenue recognition standard announced in May by FASB and the International Accounting Standards Board (IASB). Of those who are familiar with the standard, a majority (52%) are still analysing the standard, 20% say they are ready to implement the new standard, and 18% say they are looking for guidance on implementation issues.

In an earlier BDO survey of public company board members, respondents listed updating systems and policies and revising existing customer contracts as the most challenging aspects of the new standard.

Related CGMA Magazine content:

Viewing Cyber-Security Through a COSO Lens”: The principles outlined in a popular internal control framework can help organisations manage their cyber-security.

5 Priorities That Should Dominate Corporate Directors’ To-Do Lists”: Managing reputational risks on a global scale is likely to require more of a time commitment from corporate directors in 2015. To help boards manage their time and agenda, here are five priorities they should address.

Neil Amato ( is a CGMA Magazine senior editor.