a. Assume that you are called in as a forensic accountant to advise Geox. How would you
b. How does the fact that the systems are open source affect their security?
Geox Company produces and sells a specialized software package used by valuation analysts throughout the world. The software contains a series of modules connected to online databases in such a way that valuation analysts can quickly and accurately calculate estimated market values for private companies. Geox uses a subscription model to sell its product. Subscribers pay an initial fee, which permits them to immediately download and begin using the software. At the end of one year, subscribers must pay an annual fee or the subscription expires and the software stops working.
Geox began operations only several years ago with three brothers pitching in and working together in the garage of the oldest brother, Ricky. He developed the concepts behind the product and its marketing. Middle brother Zeek is a software engineer and did all programming work. The youngest brother, Tricky, developed the Web site and did all of the work setting it up and billing customers. He manages everything to do with accounting.
Geox has rapidly grown from only a handful of subscribers to more than 10,000. Because of this growth, Tricky hired three full-time staff members for technical support and service. He does all of the billing himself with the help of his wife and oldest son. His present billing system was designed for only a small number of subscribers. Customers input their payment information into a secure Web form on Geox’s site. Tricky then receives the payment details via e-mail. He then e-mails the customer a code from his database, which the customer inputs into the software to make it work for one year.
Tricky has become very good at handling the customer subscriptions and payments, despite the large number of transactions. Still, the large customer load often causes him to work too many hours, so he wants an automated system to handle all customer orders. He found an open-source shopping cart system that he likes on the Web. He prefers an open-source system so that Zeek can customize it as needed. Zeek is one of the world’s best programmers, and he would never tolerate relying on any accounting system to which he could not make programming changes.
Tricky is presently using the Isolex accounting system, which is also completely open source. It handles all payroll and expenses. It also handles revenues, but Tricky enters them manually, in weekly totals. All main data files in the Isolex system are stored in MySQL databases. The means that Zeek can easily integrate the Isolex system with any of the many online shopping cart and billing systems that also support MySQL. Tricky is considering three open-source shopping cart and billing system packages. He is very worried about security because he has heard many stories of hackers breaking into online systems such as the one he is contemplating.
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