Author Archives: Aronson LLC

About Aronson LLC

Aronson LLC has been thinking ahead for its clients for more than 50 years. Aronson’s construction, real estate, government contracting, nonprofit, technology and private industry experts provide innovative audit, tax, and consulting services that help its clients move to the next level. From start-up to exit strategy, Aronson works with companies throughout the entire business lifecycle by proactively identifying opportunities and addressing challenges so that clients are able to focus on their core business. Aronson shows companies how to rethink everything to be more profitable, more competitive and better prepared for the future.

Aronson LLC

The 2017 Employee Benefit Plan Benchmarking Survey

benefit plan

Participate in Aronson’s 3rd Annual Employee Benefit Plan Benchmarking Survey and receive a free copy of the report that will help you evaluate how your plan stacks up against more than 200 of your peers. Retaining talented employees is a vital part of doing business, and employee benefit plans can be valuable tools in achieving your business goals.

Our Employee Benefit Plan Benchmarking Survey is quick, easy, and comprehensive. The survey covers all aspects of employee benefit plans and will take no more than 10–15 minutes to complete.

Aronson’s Employee Benefit Plan Benchmarking Survey will help your organization stay competitive by:

  • Benchmarking your employee benefit plan offerings and key provisions against other similar plans
  • Gaining insights into trends occurring in the marketplace complemented by expert insights from Aronson’s employee benefit plan specialists
  • Breaking down this complicated area with fresh data, straightforward charts and graphs, and actionable best practices

Complete the survey today by clicking the link below, and you will receive the Benchmarking Report free of charge in April. The survey closes on March 9th.

Survey Here!

Ransomware: Don’t Be the Next News Headline

This post was co-authored by Nicole Baumgartner and Natasha Barnes.

Ransomware attacks have become recurring news headlines and show no signs of decline. Attackers continue to earn profits and increase the complexity of their attacks. From April 2014 – June 2015, the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) reported more than $18 million in losses from ransomware attacks. Victims include individuals, businesses, and public agencies. According to Kaspersky Labs, corporate users experienced more than a 6% increase in attacks from 2014 – 2016; however, home users still encounter the majority of these attacks. It’s imperative to understand and implement security measures before your environment becomes the next hostage.

Ransomware is a form of malicious software or malware, which prohibits access to your computer and/or files until a ransom has been paid. This attack can render a computer, network, certain segments or files within it inaccessible to authorized users. There are multiple deployment methods for ransomware. Some of the most common ways include clicking on a malicious link, downloading deceptive attachments that contain executable files, and visiting unsecure websites.

There are several ransomware families; two of the most common versions are Locker Ransomware and Crypto Ransomware. Locker Ransomware disables access to computer files but typically leaves them unaltered. As it can be possible to remove this type of ransomware with anti-virus software, hackers began utilizing encryption to incentivize timely payment. Crypto Ransomware searches through files, encrypts those of interest, and requires ransom payment before providing the decryption key.

In case studies where Crypto Ransomware has been deployed to a school system (Horry County School District), hospital (Hollywood Presbyterian Medical Center), and police department (Tewksbury, Massachusetts), these entities ultimately paid the ransom due to the high costs and operational setbacks associated with losing the encrypted data. According to the FBI, ransomware fees range from $200 – $10,000. The Hollywood Presbyterian Hospital paid $17,000, Horry County paid $10,000, and the Tewksbury Police Department paid $500. Payment is usually required to be made using Bitcoins, which is a completely digital and encrypted currency. Companies are beginning to stockpile bitcoins in the event of a ransomware attack, as many entities did not have this currency at the time of attacks.

While ransom payments could be relatively nominal, there’s no guarantee that files will be decrypted and access restored. However, in the cases mentioned above and many other situations, the attackers upheld their end of the deal.  Any time a payment is made, it may help that particular victim but it also offers an incentive for future attacks. Whether the ransom is paid or not, these attacks can result in a variety of adverse impacts including financial loss, temporary/permanent data loss, disruption to operations/service delivery, and reputational damage.

The best defense against ransomware is implementing preventive measures. Maintain a close pulse on ransomware capabilities as it is a constant evolving threat. The most important safeguard is to backup data frequently and consistently. Organizations should also have a disaster recovery plan and business continuity plan in place. These plans should be tested annually to determine their effectiveness and efficiency. Antivirus software and operating systems should be kept current. Practicing these cyber hygiene activities supports a defense-in-depth approach, which is vital to safeguarding against the persistent threat of ransomware attacks.

Download and listen to our recent webinar on Ransomware Prevalence and Safeguards to learn more.

Aronson LLC: Where Every Bean Counts

blogAwards season is officially in swing and Aronson has had a busy month! This June, the firm received honors from The Washington Post as a “Top Workplace” and the Washington Business Journal as a “Best Place to Work.” We were also recognized as a finalist at the Northern Virginia Chamber of Commerce’s Outstanding Corporate Citizenship Awards for our volunteerism in the community. These awards show our ongoing commitment to fostering a welcoming environment #whereeverybeancounts. To better understand what we mean, check out our #whereeverybeancounts video that premiered at The Washington Business Journal’s “Best Places to Work” award ceremony!

Aronson was ranked third of 60 businesses in the mid-size company category of The Washington Post’s “Top Workplaces” award. Aronson was the only accounting firm to receive a top three ranking in its category. 2016 also marks the sixth year that Aronson has received the Washington Business Journal’s “Best Places to Work” award since 2007.

What makes Aronson one of the best places to work in the DC area? And how do we attract and retain top talent? We were recognized for a few reasons, including:

  • Summer Fridays: As one of our favorite perks, we close the office early on Fridays between Memorial Day and Labor Day. Our team members deserve it after putting in hard work during busy season.
  • Catered Meals During Busy Season: Busy Season is the most challenging time for our team members. We provide delicious snacks, meals, and “survival kits” to support our team during those busy days!
  • Town Halls: Through our quarterly town halls, we foster openness and accessibility. The topics of the town hall meetings vary from recapping on a successful busy season to unveiling our refreshed branding, but we always capture the meeting with a firm-wide selfie by the Managing Partner.
  • Rest & Relaxation Week: During R&R week, team members enjoy a week of activities designed to get employees focused on their health and wellness following a long busy season. Activities include our annual health fair, fitness challenges, group walks, and more.
  • Community Enrichment Program: We provide paid time off (PTO) hours for volunteering through our Community Enrichment Program. Our team members take advantage of this program by planning team volunteer events, serving on Boards of nonprofit organizations, and participating in charity events in our office.
  • Aronson Foundation & Denim Fridays: Since 2004, the Aronson Foundation has given more than $1.4M to causes near and dear to our team members’ hearts. We raise money for the Aronson Foundation in a number of ways including Denim Fridays, where our team members donate to the Charity of the Month in exchange for wearing denim on Fridays.

If you are interested in joining our award-winning team, check out our current open positions or contact Kevin Gerrity, Director of Recruiting, at 301.231.6200. If you’re interested in learning more about our wide range of professional service offerings, reach out to Angie Collier, Director of Business Development, at 301.231.6200 today!

Employee Benefit Plan Benchmarking Report…. Results Are In!

Do you know how your Employee Benefit Plan stacks up against the competition? Have you reviewed your plan with your Benefit Plan auditor?

We recently released the results of our Annual Employee Benefit Plan Benchmarking Report compiled by our Employee Benefit Plan Services Group. Find out what your peers are doing, with tips and tricks from our experts woven in.

For more information, or to download a copy of the report visit here.

Whitepaper: Internal Controls Going Beyond Auditing

phishing

Did you know that a stolen record costs a company on average $155? Or, that a larger Cybersecurity breach can cost $3.79 million to an organization? Cybersecurity is just one Risk Area of many that can drain time, money and other vital resources. While no business comes without risk potential, safeguarding your organization with the proper internal controls can make you less susceptible to threats from service providers, vendors and contract compliance management. Internal controls are not one-size fits all and are based in a variety of factors. Not sure where to start? Check out Aronson’s latest Whitepaper “Going Beyond Auditing”….

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