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Thought Leaders in the Digital Space A Roundtable Discussion Every day — every moment, really — some new part of life becomes digital. As a leader in business, you are not alone if you find it hard to keep up. That is why it is important to find trusted experts to help guide your business through the digital world. In this special section, thought leaders in the digital space give you insights into the internet of things, cybersecurity, intellectual property law and digital forensics.

Csilla Farkas

Clay M. Grayson

Associate Professor, Department of Computer Science and Engineering Director, Center for Information Assurance Engineering University of South Carolina

Intellectual Property Law, Partner, Grayson Thomas

WHAT EMERGING TRENDS DO YOU BELIEVE WILL IMPACT YOUR CLIENTS SOON, AND HOW ARE YOU ADVISING THEM? JEREMY GILBERT: Although data breaches are

nothing new, the scope and complexity of the attacks continues to grow and evolve. Sophisticated malware is being combined with social engineering techniques (emails, phone calls) to obtain login credentials or conduct automated attacks. It is very much an arms race between the well-equipped hacker and the business that doesn’t have time or money to spend on preventing data breaches. I strongly

suggest investing in technologies designed to mitigate the risk of a costly data breach, such as encryption, intrusion detection systems, and data loss prevention tools. Also, hire a penetration tester to test the security of your network at least once a year. WHAT’S UNIQUE ABOUT YOUR FIRM THAT ALLOWS YOU TO PROVIDE GREATER VALUE TO YOUR CLIENTS? CLAY M. GRAYSON: We don’t try to be everything for everyone. At Grayson Thomas, we provide general counsel services to clients in the industry verti-

Jeremy Gilbert Manager, IT Advisory, Dixon Hughes Goodman

cals of healthcare, higher education, and technology. This focus towards certain client archetypes enables us to provide a more thoughtful array of legal services to persons, whose “industry” language we speak. We are also not your typical law firm, but think of ourselves as a start-up company. Founded in November, 2014, we relate to the experiences of our entrepreneur clients. Entrepreneurialism is part of our culture, and as a result, we are working towards the release of SaaS products from our website that might provide low cost solutions to certain repetitive legal-related functions, like copyright registrations for software.


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“Do you have agreements that sweep the ownership of intellectual property being created by your employees and contractors into your business entity? Do you reward innovation?”

“One of the most common mistakes made today is failing to train your employees to be security conscious. An emerging trend in cyber attacks is targeting the people who work for you.”

Clay Grayson, Grayson Thomas

Jeremy Gilbert, Dixon Hughes Goodman

CSILLA FARKAS: The University of

South Carolina (USC) has been systematically developing nationally-ranked cybersecurity educational and research capabilities for over a decade. USC has been designated, since 2010, as a National Center of Academic Excellence in Information Assurance and Cyber Defense (CAE IA/CD) Education and Research (CAE-R). We offer cybersecurity programs at the undergraduate and graduate levels. These programs support our institutional mission to provide all students with the highest-quality education and to promote responsible citizenship in a complex and changing (digital) world. By combining education and research, our graduates acquire cybersecurity knowledge and skills to defend against current and future cyberattacks.

WHAT ARE SOME COMMON MISTAKES THAT COMPANIES MAKE – AND, WHAT ARE SOME POTENTIAL RISKS ASSOCIATED WITH THEM? GILBERT: One of the most common mis-

takes made today is failing to train your employees to be security conscious. An emerging trend in cyber attacks is targeting the people who work for you. Clear and consistent IT security training can go a long way towards preventing the next cyber attack. Another mistake is inadequate or useless backups. Whether its ransomware, a cyber attack, equipment failure, or a simple mistake, useful backups of your company’s data can save you a lot of headaches when things go wrong. Companies also are reluctant to invest in

monitoring capabilities that could quickly identify potential security incidents and data breaches and begin corrective actions before a lot of damage is done. GRAYSON: The most common mistake

I see people make as they start their new business is failure to recognize, understand and protect the intellectual property of their enterprise. This should be a Day 1 activity that is written into your enterprise’s DNA. Do you have agreements that sweep the ownership of intellectual property being created by your employees and contractors into your business entity? Do you reward innovation? Are you seeking patent, trademark, and copyright protection for those elements in your knowledge portfolio that are the most critical? If you’re not thinking in these terms, it’s time to change, and quickly.


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WHAT ARE THE MOST COMMON RECOMMENDATIONS YOU HAVE MADE TO YOUR CLIENTS TO HELP THEM MANAGE THEIR SYSTEMS & RISK? FARKAS: Incorporate cybersecurity into

your business model. No company can afford to ignore the risk of cyber breaches. We also know that addressing security needs as an afterthought will have limited success. Cyber risk analysis that links technical vulnerabilities with business goals is crucial to develop effective defense capabilities. It is important to bridge the communication gap between business leaders and technical experts. Our cybersecurity graduates learn to express security threats in such a way that is understandable to the general public and corporate leaders.

GILBERT: Information security is not

something you can purchase and forget. New vulnerabilities are exposed as systems and networks continuously change and grow due to upgrades, conversions, and hardware / software replacement. An effective information security program has to start with the company’s leadership. If the company’s leaders view information security as merely an expense or a necessary evil, security will never be a priority and will never be implemented effectively. Security incidents can cost companies hundreds of thousands or even millions of dollars, so make it a priority.

each team member feel safe, fulfilled and respected in the workplace, so that they each want to stay at the firm and be part of our shared success. Retention of team members is critical to reap the return of investment in human capital that Grayson Thomas is making. Attorneys are in a “trade.” In some ways, we train and mentor each other more like plumbers, carpenters, or other journeymen. The apprenticeship of one attorney to another is a powerful unifier in a firm, underpinning its culture and quality of services to clients. Shared success and mentorship are the focus at Grayson Thomas. Our success depends on it.

WHAT ARE THE CORE CHALLENGES THAT FIRMS LIKE YOURS WILL FACE IN THE COMING YEARS?

WHAT ARE SOME OF THE BENEFITS OF USING A FIRM LIKE YOURS?

GRAYSON: Grayson Thomas’ future

FARKAS: Universities can provide valu-

success depends on our ability to make

able services to industry and government

“If the company’s leaders view information security as merely an expense or a necessary evil, security will never be a priority and will never be implemented effectively.” Jeremy Gilbert, Dixon Hughes Goodman

“No company can afford to ignore the risk of cyber breaches.” Csilla Farkas, USC Department of Computer Science and Engineering


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Thought Leaders in the Digital Space “Universities can provide valuable services to industry and government organizations. First, companies gain access to our well-trained students. Student interns and potential future employees can solve current problems and quickly adapt to new needs.” Csilla Farkas, USC Department of Computer Science and Engineering

“Our communities across the state are demonstrating, time and time again, that the tech sector can support many new jobs, and drive new dollars into our state’s economy.” Clay Grayson, Grayson Thomas

organizations. First, companies gain access to our well-trained students. Student interns and potential future employees can solve current problems and quickly adapt to new needs. Second, faculty research brings state-of-the-art capabilities within the reach of a company for a fraction of the cost of proprietary development. Third, university experts provide vendor independent, unbiased evaluations; therefore, organizations may choose the most suitable technical solutions. Finally, the recently announced SC Cyber initiative is led by USC. SC Cyber is a state-wide initiative to promote cybersecurity collaboration and the sharing of resources. GILBERT: Cybersecurity assessment firms

keep up with the latest cyber risks and vulnerabilities and have the skillsets and tools to examine a variety technical con-

figurations. Firms can also provide insight on cost-effective tools and techniques that can be used to reduce cyber risk based on efforts seen at other clients of similar size and complexity. WHAT NEW TECHNOLOGIES ARE COMING TO MARKET THAT YOU ARE EXCITED ABOUT? FARKAS: The Internet of Things (IoT); the networking of remotely controlled devices and systems from the mundane, such as a kitchen refrigerator, to safety-critical systems, such as sensor networks. Our society is increasingly dependent on computing technologies. At the same time, cyberattacks are becoming more-and-more intrusive and devastating. There is a diminishing separation between cyber and physical systems; for example,

consider the 2010 Stuxnet malware attack on industrial control systems. Adding to this already insecure world, the growing interconnectivity of IoT devices creates new security challenges and consequences yet unseen. Security solutions for this complex problem can only be achieved by collaborative efforts of multidisciplinary teams. GRAYSON: At Grayson Thomas, we’re

particularly excited about the convergence of electronic health record keeping and super-computing. We are at a tipping point where massive quantities of aggregated and organized health data, on which we can apply any number of analytic tools, is revealing insights into our bodies, wellbeing and manner of care. As a result, we are poised to enter the age of personalized medicine. In 2017, we expect to see the


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continued emergence of technology to organize, analyze, and exchange electronic health data, which will drive real-life changes in the delivery of healthcare, innovation in therapeutics and the development of novel medical devices. ARE THERE ANY STATE OR FEDERAL REGULATIONS THAT YOU WOULD LIKE TO SEE CHANGED THAT WOULD IMPROVE BUSINESS CONDITIONS FOR TECHNOLOGY COMPANIES? GRAYSON: In South Carolina, our eco-

nomic development legislation continues to focus on manufacturing. However, our communities across the state are demonstrating, time and time again, that the tech sector can support many new jobs, and drive new dollars into our state’s economy. Our SC research universities are hotbeds of entrepreneurialism, which spin off many successful companies in the private sector. I encourage our General Assembly

should have a plan to expand its IT infrastructure and IT talent to cope with these challenges.

to consider tax credits targeted to knowledge-based, technology companies. I encourage increased state investment in our research universities to amplify tech-related curriculum and fund scholarships into those programs. In Charleston, the demand for employment in the software space exceeds what the area schools can supply. This should and has to change.

GRAYSON: Don’t think of legal fees as

WHAT ADVICE DO YOU HAVE FOR ENTREPRENEURS WHO ARE STARTING NEW COMPANIES IN THE DIGITAL SPACE? GILBERT: Too often small, quickly growing businesses fail to improve their IT infrastructure as they grow or rely heavily on a third party for IT support. This can result in an IT infrastructure that is unable to efficiently support the larger business, but is also ill-equipped to deal with the security incidents and insider theft that will inevitably occur in today’s businesses. Before this becomes a problem, a business

an expense. A good lawyer relationship is a critical investment of your company. If you are looking to grow a business to a defined exit point, every legal action, agreement, and document will be examined and can either become a valued asset or an unnecessary liability of your company. Regarding exit points, a smart buyer will sense a seller’s sophistication (or lack thereof) when buyer’s counsel conducts its due diligence. Inadequate investment in legal demonstrates risk to buyers, thereby providing grounds to reduce purchase price. Conversely, good counsel will help you mitigate and avoid risks, which can result in a savings in the long run and, perhaps, keep you in business until you reach that exit point.

“Don’t think of legal fees as an expense. A good lawyer relationship is a critical investment of your company.” Clay Grayson, Grayson Thomas

“Too often small, quickly growing businesses fail to improve their IT infrastructure as they grow or rely heavily on a third party for IT support.” Jeremy Gilbert, Dixon Hughes Goodman

Thought Leaders in the Digital Space: A Roundtable Discussion  

In this special section, thought leaders in the digital space give you insights into the internet of things, cybersecurity, intellectual pro...

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