The Commerce Depart




Techno-Boost for International Commerce

The Department of Commerce granted permission to Netscape and Microsoft to export software for international banking transactions that is more secure than previous versions. The government had been concerned that overly powerful encryption software could pose a threat to national security. The newly approved 128-bit encryption software is seen as necessary to keep transactions secure from hackers with sophisticated mainframes. In fact, as part of a contest organized by a data security company, some programmers broke a 56-bit code with an ordinary Pentium personal computer this is like breaking into a bank vault with a hammer. Each bit doubles the encoding power, so the level of complexity between 40 bits the old standard and 128 bits is astronomical.

Supporters of the governments decision see it as a boon to international trade, with bankers worldwide able to transmit financial data securely. Mark Eckman, CPA, chairman of the American Institute of CPAs information technology research subcommittee, also sees the decision as an advance. "However, the real key to acceptance of electronic commerce is not in the technology but, rather, in the mind-set of the users," he said. "When they feel the need to use the technology, they will begin to use the technology. The use of 128-bit keys will help, but it is not a driver to the use of the technology."



SPONSORED REPORT

Keeping client information safe in an age of scams and security threats

A look at the Dirty Dozen tax scams and ways to protect taxpayer information.

TECHNOLOGY Q&A

How to create maps in Excel 2016

Microsoft Excel 2016 has two new mapping capabilities. J. Carlton Collins, CPA, demonstrates how to make masterful 2D and 3D maps in Excel 2016.

QUIZ

News quiz: IRS enforcement, a hot job, and audit value

The IRS’s 2016 Data Book, a “hot job” of particular interest at this time of year, and insight into how executive and audit committees view the insights from financial statement audits received attention recently. See how much you know with this short quiz.