The ripple effect of last year's high-profile cases where information and data controls broke down or were manipulated has gone through the boardroom and finance department and into the IT department. In many public companies, more C- level officers are now active participants in evaluating the controls around critical information assets required to manage the business effectively and ensure the accuracy of their financial statements for market and regulatory disclosure.

What the average citizen and reader of newspaper stories does not understand, however, is that given the hundreds of automated and manual information systems most organizations have today, many with complex timing and interface interdependencies, the oddity is not that controls break down, but rather that controls are possible at all. Legacy systems constitute a labyrinth of complexity; and if you want to trace a path of a particular piece of data to find the root cause of data-related integrity issues, you typically face an arduous task. Complexity then breeds more complexity as a "don't fix what's not broken" mentality prevails. Instead of fixing the problem, many of those charged with system maintenance apply workarounds and simply build additional "pipes."

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