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."


Year-end tax planning and what’s new for 2016

Practitioners need to consider several tax planning opportunities to review with their clients before the end of the year. This report offers strategies for individuals and businesses, as well as recent federal tax law changes affecting this year’s tax returns.


News quiz: Retirement planning, tax practice, and fraud risk

Recent reports focused on a survey that gauges the worries about retirement among CPA financial planners’ clients, a suit that affects tax practitioners, and a guide that offers advice on fraud risk. See how much you know with this short quiz.


Bolster your data defenses

As you weather the dog days of summer, it’s a good time to make sure your cybersecurity structure can stand up to the heat of external and internal threats. Here are six steps to help shore up your systems.