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Not So Sunny at Sony Marcum LLP | Accountants and Advisors | New York, New Jersey, Massachusetts, Connecticut, Rhode Island, Pennsylvania, California and Florida Certified Public Accountants
Not So Sunny at Sony

Michael Lynton is not having a good month. Neither is Amy Pascal. Mr. Lynton, the CEO of Sony Entertainment, and Ms. Pascal, Sony's co-chairwoman, are reeling from the recent hacking attack against Sony, presumably from a group calling themselves the Guardians of Peace.

The attack is apparently in retaliation for Sony's failure to pull its upcoming Christmas movie, THE INTERVIEW, starring Seth Rogen and James Franco, from being released. The film, a comedy, is about two reporters (Rogen and Franco) and their attempt to kill North Korean leader Kim Jong-un, who I can only assume doesn't see the humor. North Korea has demanded that Sony shelve the film. Sony's intent to stick with its holiday release schedule appears to have triggered the attack, although law enforcement officials including the FBI cannot definitively attribute the hacking to North Korea, or anyone else for the matter. The attack on Sony was carried out from command and control centers across the world, from computers and servers in places such as Singapore, Thailand, Cyprus, Poland, Bolivia and the United States.

It's hard to quantify the impact all of this will have on Sony, Mr. Lynton, Ms. Pascal and the countless others affected. The size and scope, as well as the nature of the hacking are unprecedented in corporate America. This is just not the same as previous attacks on companies such as Target or JP Morgan Chase, where confidential customer credit and other financial information was obtained for the purpose of identity theft. The Sony attack was designed solely to embarrass a major movie studio and bring it to its knees by releasing scores of confidential business records including executive salaries, employee social security numbers, contracts, films not yet released, accounting records (who said Hollywood movies never make a profit?), scripts, personal email, and the list goes on and on.

The goal appears to be to actually cripple Sony to the point where business cannot be conducted as usual. The online entertainment industry publication, Deadline, speculated on Wednesday about whether people will be nervous about doing business with Sony since their data and private conversations might not be secure. I doubt anyone would turn down a deal with Sony Pictures because of data concerns, but I have no doubt the company's new security systems will rival Fort Knox.

We have all become so completely reliant on technology to conduct even the most rudimentary tasks in our businesses that when the technology is disabled or unavailable for any reason, we are functionally out of business. Who knows? Maybe the next big trend in corporate communications is going to be the return of the telephone.

Many of us have been the subjects of identity theft, or had viruses infect our home or business computers. And to some degree we've been forced to accept that this is the new normal. We have adopted what we hope are measures to insure our privacy and protect our data and finances. But this attack on Sony brings everything to a new level. The fact that hackers can orchestrate such an assault on a major international corporation in order to prevent a product from being brought to market is a game changer. The financial cost to Sony, alone, is estimated by some to be in the $100 million range, and it may take as long as three months for them to get back full use of their systems. How many of our businesses could function for three months without the use of some or all of our technology? It's a sobering question for those of us who own and or run businesses.

I have special sympathy for Sony's situation since, as some of you know, in addition to running Marcum I am also in the film production business (I am privileged to be one of the producers of the Jason Bourne films). Moreover, I see in Marcum's business that more companies are starting to take cybersecurity issues very seriously. The Technology Assurance Services group of Marcum LLP and our subsidiary Marcum Technology both help companies identify and resolve their technology vulnerabilities, and is one of the fastest growing service offerings at our Firm.

They say success is the best revenge. I hope THE INTERVIEW is a mega hit for Sony. It better be, after everything they've gone through to get it made and into theaters.


The Need for Collective Calm Marcum LLP | Accountants and Advisors | New York, New Jersey, Massachusetts, Connecticut, Rhode Island, Pennsylvania, California and Florida Certified Public Accountants
The Need for Collective Calm

Peaceful or not, hundreds of people marching and demonstrating through the streets of New York (or anyplace else) can be unsettling, especially if you come face to face with it. That's what Tracy and I came up against Tuesday night last week.

We went to see CABARET on Broadway (by the way, Alan Cummings is phenomenal) and then for a quick after theatre bite at one of the restaurants along Central Park South. By 10:30PM when we emerged, the streets were full of people demonstrating against the grand jury decision in the Ferguson, Mo. fatal shooting of Michael Brown, an 18-year-old black man, by Darren Wilson, 28, a white Ferguson police officer. The demonstrators in New York and around the country were protesting the grand jury's decision not to bring charges against Officer Wilson in connection with Mr. Brown's death. Officer Wilson has since resigned from the Ferguson police department.

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A Thanksgiving Message Marcum LLP | Accountants and Advisors | New York, New Jersey, Massachusetts, Connecticut, Rhode Island, Pennsylvania, California and Florida Certified Public Accountants
A Thanksgiving Message

Thanksgiving is next week, and since Marcum will be closed on Friday for the four-day weekend and I won’t be writing a column, I am using this week to reflect on the meaning and significance of the celebration.

Thanksgiving is the quintessential American holiday. We know that it originated as a harvest feast among the Pilgrims, but there are conflicting details about the holiday's history, and some of them aren't pretty. What there is no argument about, however, is that the spirit of the original Thanksgiving celebration in 1621 endures today as an occasion to be generous and inclusive, to bring family together, to reconnect, to share a meal (usually at a groaning table), and to watch some football. At least that's how it goes in my house.

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Space Is Back Marcum LLP | Accountants and Advisors | New York, New Jersey, Massachusetts, Connecticut, Rhode Island, Pennsylvania, California and Florida Certified Public Accountants
Space Is Back

Two things have happened in the past two weeks that are extremely important for the future of space exploration, the sciences and, by extension, the betterment of humankind.

For starters, we landed a spacecraft on a comet. A comet! The European Space Agency's Rosetta spacecraft deployed a probe on Tuesday that successfully anchored on the surface of Comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko. It took Rosetta 10 years to cross the solar system to arrive at its destination in deep space. It was both the end of a journey and the beginning of something with much, much longer range significance. Just imagine the amount of research and theoretical and applied science it took to accomplish this incredible feat! It's almost too much to get your head around.

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About Jeffrey M. Weiner

Photo Credit: Bob Giglione

Jeffrey M. Weiner joined Marcum in 1981 and has served as Managing Partner since 1990. Under his leadership, Marcum has expanded from a one-office Firm of 20 employees to a Firm ranked #15 in the United States.

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Not So Sunny at Sony
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A Thanksgiving Message
Space Is Back
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