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Tuesday, July 31, 2018 - 3:30pm

Three Mercy accounting graduates — Allison Barnes, Matt Carle and Zulima Munoz — published an article on cybersecurity ethics in The Trusted Professional, a bimonthly publication of the New York State Society of Certified Public Accountants (NYSSCPA). The article, “Combating cybersecurity risk: a challenge posed to the CPA profession,” appeared in the publication’s June/July 2018 edition.


“It was a lot of work,” Carle explains, “but we all knew it was a great opportunity to get exposure in the accounting field.”


Mercy Associate Professor Denise Stefano — who is also the chair of the accounting department — is a recent past NYSSCPA board member and a former president of NYSSCPA’s Westchester Chapter. When a colleague on The Trusted Professional’s editorial team inquired about a student-written article, Stefano assembled a Mercy team.


After considering various article topics, Barnes, Carle and Munoz decided to write about cybersecurity and the ethics surrounding cybersecurity. Munoz explains, “We wanted to select a topic that we could give our opinion on,” even while speaking to professionals with many more years of experience. Carle adds that the Equifax data breach was an ongoing topic in the news at the time and that the team thought the breach would not have been so damaging if there were better audit protections and monitoring in place. Over the course of a few months, the student team researched, drafted and revised internally — with Stefano serving in an advisory capacity — before working with the editorial team at The Trusted Professional to polish the article for publication.


In the article, Barnes, Carle and Munoz note that CPAs play an important role in preventing and addressing information technology breaches: “At many businesses, it is not a matter of whether there will be a new data breach, or even when the new breach will occur, but how the breach will be addressed. The high risk of such breaches makes it incumbent upon the CPA profession to stay ahead of the hack. And it can do so by continuing to invest efforts in promoting cybersecurity resilience.”


Stefano explains the significance of the students’ accomplishment: “The New York State Society of CPAs is one of the most prominent state societies throughout the country, and it’s probably the most active legislatively. There are thousands of CPA practitioner members, and all of them receive and read [The Trusted Professional]. For students to be published at this stage in their careers, it's a tremendous accomplishment. It’s an unbelievable resume booster.”


This “resume booster” comes at the perfect time, as all three students are about to begin their careers in the accounting field. Barnes graduated from Mercy with a B.S. in Public Accounting in 2017 and will earn an M.S. in Public Accounting this year before heading to Ernst & Young . Carle graduated with a B.S. in Public Accounting this year and will work at Deloitte. Munoz graduated with a B.S. in Public Accounting this year and will work at Ernst & Young as well.


“[Writing this article] uses what Mercy taught us to add to the profession,” Barnes asserts. “It’s not giving back exactly but using what we learned in textbooks to affect the real world.”