An Internal Audit of Social Media

Upon reading the title of this blog you might have thought, “What does social media have to do with accounting principles or financial management?” I thought the same thing—until I began expanding into the use of social media marketing for my company. I just want to share these thoughts so that you can take action to make sure social media does not compromise the fiduciary integrity of your non-profit or church.

An annual survey (2014 Internal Audit Capabilities and Needs Survey) conducted by the risk and business consulting company, Protiviti, showed that social media is the major concern of internal audit functions. As social media use increases, it is incumbent on businesses and non-profits to have social media policies in place. It is also important to keep in mind that social media is not limited to your organization’s IT network; social media is accessible via smartphones and tablets that belong to your staff and might be accessible during work hours.

These are the major concerns, according to the survey:

  • Financial loss via social media rose to the top of the list of concerns this year.
  • Social media, mobile apps, cloud computing and the related security are major areas of concern. Your information is potentially being viewed in all of these mediums by your employees and/or by your donors.
  • Non-profit organizations and churches, even if they have social media policies in place, probably are not updating their policies to keep up with the constant and frequent changes in social media platforms and technologies. In fact, who can keep up? A good example of this is video conferencing from one location to another. Does your policy address the risk of sharing sensitive information (on-screen viewing by casual passers-by, walking away from a terminal without securing the screensaver, etc.)?
  • Cyber security protection is often lacking, especially in small and mid-sized organizations. (I infer that most organizations are thinking they are too small for someone to spend a lot of time trying to get into the financial records. Very risky!)
  • Organizations are increasing their use of social media to increase revenue or, if a church, to cultivate relationships daily from Sunday to Sunday.
  • Social media use can impact business continuity.
  • Social media use can also impact employee productivity. Interruptions by a personal cell phone call or text or by checking out the employee’s social media of choice can easily lead to mistakes.  I always recommend employees dealing with numbers limit their interruptions so that there are less mistakes!
  • The risk of losing intellectual property is also a major concern according to this year’s survey.
  • Organizations are not doing enough to prevent non-authorized social media use which can expose a company’s IT to viruses and malware resulting in expensive fixes.

“Take it from me… your company’s social media policy it an important part of your security, efficiency, and profitability.” – Josh, Omega Animal Removal in Houston

Exercise caution. Risk management and loss prevention are accounting strategies that can be impacted by social media use in your organization. Fixes are more expensive than prevention. Your financial data is a very attractive target for hackers.

The certified public accounting firm of Cox and Associates CPAs has been serving churches and nonprofit organizations since 1996. Our goal is to achieve excellence in the provision of tax, accounting, auditing, financial education, consultation, and other related businesses services to our clients. Call us with your questions at (281) 399-8153.