WASHINGTON, May 30, 2018 /PRNewswire/ — The first U.S. Secretary of Homeland Security and alliantgroup Chairman of Cybersecurity and Technology Tom Ridge, as well as former government officials, executive officers, U.S. business leaders, CPA partners and business advisors from across the country, gathered for alliantgroup’s Cybersecurity and Technology Forum in Washington, D.C.—an exclusive event created for the benefit of the firm’s clients and CPA and industry partners.

During the forum, Ridge was joined by former U.S. Congressman and alliantgroup Senior Vice President Rick Lazio as well as other policy experts for an open town hall style session on the growing number of cyber threats facing both the public and private sectors. Highlighting high profile events such as Russian hacking during the 2016 elections to cybersecurity breaches at Under Armour and Equifax to the recent ransomware attack on the city of Atlanta, Ridge and Lazio led an interactive panel on the growing importance of cybersecurity and the steps public and private institutions should be taking to protect their most sensitive data.

As noted by the panel, while the advancement of the Internet of Things and digital technologies has made the world more connected, it has also increased the number of points of vulnerability, thereby making the nation more susceptible to cyber threats. With increased connectivity and reliance on technology comes the potential for greater damage from cyberattacks launched by criminals or other bad faith actors. As such, the panel highlighted how cybersecurity should not only be a primary focus for U.S. businesses, but a top priority for the federal government.

“While Congress has not declared war, this is the fifth dimension of war. We have been engaged in it for a long time and the fighting gets more and more intense every day,” said Ridge. “I’m not sure that the country quite appreciates or understands the depths of it yet.”

Recognizing that cybercrime will only grow more sophisticated over time, Ridge and the panel emphasized the need for companies to invest in proper response and recovery protocols and for employees to be educated on best practices, noting that every employee from the C-level suite down was responsible for maintaining proper “cyberhygiene.” In addition, Ridge stressed the importance of changing the relationship between the federal government and businesses in addressing cybersecurity issues, noting that a more cooperative approach would be more productive for all parties involved.

“Right now, the government’s approach has been more punitive than it has been helpful,” said Ridge. “Until we assess a new relationship or paradigm between the government and the private sector, individual companies can’t rely on the government for much help.”

Later discussions at the forum focused on the policies the federal government is currently pursuing with regard to uniform cybersecurity protocols, including current efforts to implement a minimum standard for data security and a standard timeline for data breach notifications. The panel also highlighted the importance that federal tax incentives such as the Research and Development Tax Credit can have in driving innovation in the cybersecurity sector, with these incentives providing companies the capital needed to retain technical talent and enhance their services.

Those in attendance included former U.S. Secretary of Agriculture and alliantgroup Chairman of Agriculture Mike Johanns, former U.S. Congressman and alliantgroup Senior Vice President Rick Lazio, former IRS Acting Commissioner and alliantgroup National Director of Tax Steven Miller, and alliantgroup Executive Vice President Sonny Grover.

“I would like to thank everyone who took the time to attend this event,” said alliantgroup CEO Dhaval Jadav. “Our goal in hosting these conferences is to provide thought leadership to our CPA and industry partners and the businesses they serve. By providing them with the information they need to stay ahead of emerging economic and policy trends, it is our hope that we are offering another avenue to ensure their continued success.”

alliantgroup‘s mission is one of education and awareness—we exist to help industry organizations, businesses and the accounting firms that advise them take full advantage of all federal and state tax credits, incentives and deductions available. These powerful incentive programs are legislated by the government to help businesses grow and remain competitive locally as well as abroad. We are proud to have helped over 12,000 businesses claim more than $6 billion in tax incentives. alliantgroup’s international headquarters is in Houston, Texas, with offices across the country and internationally including New York, Boston, Chicago, Orange County, Sacramento, Indianapolis, Washington, D.C and London and Bristol in the U.K. For more information on alliantgroup, please follow us on LinkedInFacebook and Twitter.