Cybersecurity has increasingly fallen into the purview of management accountants as the potential for and sources of disruption have multiplied. From breaches caused by external hackers to internal threats that compromise an organization’s computer systems and data, IMA® (Institute of Management Accountants) members need educational resources to help recognize these potential problems and offer preemptive solutions.

October marks “Cybersecurity Month,” an opportunity to grow in awareness about the issues surrounding this important topic. IMA has engaged on the topic for many years, including the formation of a standing Technology Solutions and Practices (TS&P) Committee. This committee aims to help members understand the application of technology to their day-to-day accounting and finance activities, as well as at a higher-level, strategic role in helping a company move forward, grow, and create value for stakeholders.

To accomplish its goals, the TS&P Committee provides education programs, research, advocacy, and thought leadership around the use of technology in areas such as financial planning and analysis, risk management and internal controls, business reporting and analysis/advanced analytics, performance measurement, business process improvement, and enabling technologies such as eXtensible Business Reporting Language (XBRL).

Kristine Brands, CMA, assistant professor of management at the United States Air Force Academy and member of the TS&P Committee, remarked, “Management accountants must be aware of the heightened risk of cybersecurity breaches to their organizations. Despite the risk’s technology focus, management accountants can take steps to safeguard information and data from hacker attacks. They can participate in raising cybersecurity risk awareness, developing and testing internal controls, implementing cybersecurity training, and recommending preventive IT controls. Start today before it’s too late. Recovering from a cyberattack could cost thousands of dollars and put your organization out of business.”*

E-learning Courses

To support members in their quest to address cybersecurity concerns, IMA offers a variety of resources.

Most recently, IMA launched a new course on the topic, Cybersecurity Compliance in the U.S., which offers 1.2 NASBA CPE credits. The course takes a deeper look into the many U.S. regulations regarding security, including cybersecurity regulations related to medical privacy, financial privacy, educational privacy, telecom, and marketing. It’s useful for members and financial professionals working for or in collaboration with U.S.-based companies. 

The new course is the fourth cybersecurity course by IMA, part of the association’s ongoing commitment to educating accounting and finance professionals on this critical topic. All courses in the cybersecurity series are offered free to members as an exclusive member benefit.

Courses are in self-study, video-based format, allowing members to learn at their own pace. Other titles in the cybersecurity series include:

  • Cybersecurity Alert! – This course introduces the fundamentals of cybersecurity, helping professionals understand its importance, key terms associated with cyberattackers, types of attacks, forms of malware, and common defensive measures used as protection. Offers 0.5 NASBA CPE credits. 
  • Cybersecurity Compliance with Global Regulations – This course familiarizes users with global regulations governing cybersecurity, covering prominent international laws for the United States, European Union, United Kingdom, China, Japan, Canada, Mexico, UAE, and Saudi Arabia. The course also reviews cross-border transfer mechanisms, prominent transfer mechanisms for EU-U.S. and Swiss-U.S., as well as APEC (Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation). Offers 1 NASBA CPE credit. 
  • Cybersecurity Risk & Mitigation – This course provides guidance and insight into managing and mitigating cybersecurity risk. The course describes how the COSO ERM Framework can assist in developing robust cybersecurity systems. Management accountants are provided insights into their roles in managing risk and mitigation through the implementation of best practices regarding risk assessment, oversight, communication, governance, and compliance. Offers 1 NASBA CPE credit.

Noted Debbie Warner, CAE, CPTD, vice president, Education and Career Services at IMA, “All four courses, including our latest on U.S. cybersecurity compliance, are essential knowledge for management accountants to enable competent partnering with cross-functional areas of business. Each course covers a different topic to create a holistic understanding of cyber threats, regulations, compliance, and preventative measures that every finance and accounting professional needs in the Digital Age.”

Other Resources

In addition to these e-learning courses, IMA also offers other resources to help members navigate the challenges of cybersecurity.

Articles from Strategic Finance magazine:
“Protecting Against Cyberattacks” (September 2021) 
“Implementing Cybersecurity” (July 2021)
“Cybersecurity From Within” (May 2021)
“Creating Cybersecurity Awareness” (January 2020)
“Get Smart About Cybersecurity Attacks” (December 2019) 

Podcasts from IMA’s Count Me In® series:
Episode18 – “Cybersecurity”
Episode 105 – “Cybersecurity Practices”

IMA research report:
Cybersecurity – Fighting Crime's Enfant Terrible 

*Approved PA#: USAFA-DF-2021-318