Cyber Threats are on the Rise: CPA Firms are Ready to Help

COMPANIES AND THEIR CUSTOMER data are proven targets of sophis­ticated cyberattacks. As cyber­crime is on the rise, draining about $500 billion a year from businesses, accounting firms are coming to the rescue. Here are some case studies that showcase how clients are upgrading their defenses, thanks to CPA firm cyber professionals.

Baker Tilly

By Tom R. Wojcinski, CISA, CRISC, CCSK, CCSFP, Principal, Cybersecurity & IT Risk Practice

A major retailer had not developed a comprehensive cybersecurity manage­ment program, functioning instead with a disparate set of disconnected security elements not aligned to a comprehen­sive framework. Baker Tilly cybersecurity professionals used a recognized and vetted cybersecurity framework (e.g., NIST, CSC) to assess the company’s current security profile, what the com­pany was doing well, where there were issues or gaps, and built a three-year roadmap with remediation activities to help the company improve security and build and maintain a sustainable cybersecurity management program. The company is currently using the recommended remediation plans to further enhance its cybersecurity posture overall.


By Gregory Garrett, CISSP, PMP, CPCM, Head, U.S. and International Cybersecurity

Our client—a leading U.S. hospital association—needed an exten­sive review of its information security policies, plans, procedures and vulnera­bilities to test its cyber readiness for a malicious attempt to harm the associa­tion. To accomplish this goal, we first conducted a cyber risk assessment of the association’s current policies and proce­dures against U.S. healthcare industry requirements. Second, we performed a cyber vulnerability assessment and net­work penetration test. Last, we deliv­ered a customized cybersecurity aware­ness education and training program for the board of directors, senior leadership and membership of 5,600 hospital CEOs nationwide. These assessments helped to identify where the association had vulnerabilities and the kinds of threats that could critically undermine its sys­tems, assets and reputation—insights which guided cyber investment priorities for the organization going forward.

Citrin Cooperman

By Michael Camacho, CPA, CIA, Partner, Cybersecurity Practice Co-Leader

Data breaches are at an all-time high, with daily headlines reporting large-scale breaches. Our cybersecurity team recently provided breach response services to a client that had fallen prey to a cyber attack that crippled their ability to do business. Minutes after being informed of the attack, our team of specialists executed a plan of action to stop the attack from inflicting any additional damage, assess who carried out the attack, learn what was compromised and deploy the prop­er defenses to mitigate the chance of a future attack. Within days, the IT environment was fully secured, and the client’s operations were back at full capacity. As a preemptive service, we perform simulated spear phishing cam­paigns for clients in order to reduce their susceptibility to becoming victims of actual spear phishing attacks.

CohnReznick LLP

By Shahryar Shaghaghi, MSc, Principal and National Director of Cybersecurity

A comprehensive risk assessment is the first step in developing an effective cybersecurity risk manage­ment program. When we first met with a mid-market construction company, they felt that a firewall and antivirus software was all they needed to protect themselves from cyber threats. When their ERP system was hit with ran­somware, they realized what they had was inadequate. Our risk assessment uncovered gaps in their cybersecurity, including ad-hoc policies and procedures and minimal technical controls. By utiliz­ing the Center for Internet Security’s Top 20 Critical Security Controls as their framework, we elevated their cybersecu­rity maturity level through an enterprise security strategy that integrates with their business and is fully focused on incident prevention, detection and response.

Friedman CyZen LLC

By Jacob Lehmann, Managing Director

Our cybersecurity experts recently helped mitigate a breach against the municipal govern­ment of a U.S. county. This municipality fell victim to malware introduced through “spear phishing,” possibly exposing critical data. Our team con­ducted a threat assessment to evaluate the scope of damage and then, as part of the incident response process, per­formed a deep dive into the infected devices using computer forensics. Once the threat was eradicated, the team boosted the municipality’s overall securi­ty posture to prevent future attacks. Our process is unique, and our experts make a point of explaining their techni­cal methodology to clients in a way they can understand and work as a force multiplier with client IT teams—ultimately giving clients the peace of mind that comes with knowing their valuable assets are safe.

Grassi & Co.

By Karl Kispert, Principal, Cyber and Information Security Practice

Our client, a real estate development firm, was the victim of phishing attacks, network malware, computers freezing, and compromised sensitive information and server access; the CEO and CFO realized that action had to take place immediately. We did not overwhelm the client with the fix all at once; rather we proceeded with a comprehensive technical assessment, then developed a strategic roadmap to strengthen them and reduce their cyber and information security risk. Some of the key areas we addressed include a risk and compliance management plan; third-party vendor risk; policies and pro­cedures; business continuity and disaster recovery; security awareness and phish­ing; physical and environmental security, and penetration testing.

Nisivoccia LLP

By Mark Jensen, Director of Technology

A non-profit client approached us for help with technology issues and inefficiencies they were experiencing. After perform­ing a needs assessment and subsequent discussions with the client, we deter­mined they needed to improve security and technological inefficiencies across their network. We migrated them from an on-premise e-mail solution to a cloud solution that would not only reduce costly and complex ongoing mainte­nance but would increase security and improve mobility. Then we implemented next-generation Firewall/UTM devices with daily reporting, cloud-based end­point protection, group policies limiting the use of externally connected USB devices and disabling any unnecessary protocols within the internal network. This organization now has annual pene­tration tests performed externally and internally to continually test for current vulnerabilities and to help safeguard the client from future threats.

PKF O’Connor Davies, LLP

By Thomas J. DeMayo, CISSP, CISA, CIPP/US, CRISC, CEH, CHFI, CCFE, Principal, Cyber Risk Management

We were engaged by a school district to identify its cyber risks. We discovered two critical weaknesses: the district viewed information security as solely an IT responsibility, and it lacked an overarching information security strate­gy across schools and business offices. Working closely with the administration, we illustrated the need for a dis­trictwide information risk management strategy and then identified and trained all the key stakeholders. Once we resolved the governance concern, we re-engineered a program focused on three key tenets: people, process and technol­ogy. The district fully embraced our work; existing technologies were com­plemented by new tools for a minimal capital expenditure.

Sax Technology Advisors

By Matthew Hahn, Chief Technology Officer

We recommend an in-depth defense approach for our clients to combat the growing presence of cyber threats. For the best protection, we typically provide a funda­mental security toolkit, which includes internal security awareness training geared toward educating staff on how best to protect themselves and the com­pany’s data and systems. It also includes a network assessment to determine whether the technology solutions cur­rently in place are appropriate and iden­tify where enhancements can be made. There is often a need to implement a Security Operations Center—a facility where a company’s IT environment is monitored 24/7—to gain deeper insight as to what’s happening both inside and outside of a client’s network. A combi­nation of all three solutions can miti­gate many of the internal and external threats that businesses now face.

Sobel & Co., LLC

By Kim Miller, Ph.D., CFE, Cyber Practice Leader

A due diligence investi­gation—a background check on a company and its principal—was performed for a client who utilizes e-commerce vendors. While none of the results on their own was necessarily cause for alarm, the presence of two or more issues raised suspicions. Our inves­tigation noted that the principal had three criminal charges for drug dealing and several monetary theft charges. The owner had changed the company name right after he was charged with the offenses, showing that he did not want clients to know about his criminal charges. The vendor had financial issues also. This investigation protected the client from any internal threats by end­ing the relationship and any potential hacking that a social engineering hacker could launch to get an internal user to provide sensitive credential information.

WithumSmith+Brown, PC

By Joe Riccie, CPA, Partner, Cybersecurity Practice Leader

A client had a phishing attempt made with an e-mail imperson­ating the CFO to the controller instruct­ing a wire transfer. The controller was not fooled, and the client’s IT performed an internal investigation. Withum was then hired do additional digital forensics work, double checking the security pos­ture. We found that the CFO had fallen for a previous phish months prior, which captured his e-mail, username and pass­word, allowing the hacker to track his e-mails for months. We fixed the issue and checked the logs to ensure no other accounts were compromised. In addi­tion, Withum performed a detailed internal and external penetration test, simulating an attack on the client’s sys­tems to evaluate the system security, and ran phishing tests. We also provided education for the employees to prevent future attempts.

Screening for, Diagnosing and Treating Ovarian Cancer and Prostate Cancer

AS SEPTEMBER IS NATIONAL Ovarian Cancer and Prostate Cancer Awareness Month, COMMERCE presents this special section, which features the latest advances in treatment and disease management, as well as patient success stories. While medicine has come a long way, ovarian cancer ranks fifth as the cause of cancer death in women and prostate cancer is the second leading cause of cancer death in men, according to the American Cancer Society. What follows are treatment updates and real-life experiences of the medical professionals serving on the front lines against these deadly forms of cancer.

Atlantic Health System, Morristown Medical Center, Overlook Medical Center

By Nana E. Tchabo, M.D., FACOG, Gynecologic Oncology, Carol G. Simon Cancer Center

Ovarian cancer is the leading cause of mortality among gynecologic malig­nancies. Unfortunately, the majority of cases are diagnosed at an advanced stage. Despite an initial response, most of these patients develop a recurrence and subsequent resistance to chemo-therapy. I am a Gynecologic Oncologist at the Atlantic Health System Carol G. Simon Cancer Center at Morristown Medical Center and Overlook Medical Center. Over the past nine years, it has been my sincere honor and pleasure to participate in the care of many remark­able patients, including Marilyn Thorne. Mrs. Thorne is an 87-year-old female with stage IIIC BRCA negative ovarian cancer who had optimal cytoreductive surgery on Sept. 23, 2015. She complet­ed six cycles of dose dense Docetaxel and monthly Carboplatin with dose reductions in May 2016. She tolerated therapy well and has been without evi­dence of recurrent disease. She contin­ues to play and teach piano, swim, and be an ever-present matriarch to a loving and nurturing family. Her husband of 67 years attends every one of her surveil­lance appointments and their love and commitment to one another is palpable. She continues to inspire me to investi­gate novel therapeutics.

Bayonne Medical Center, CarePoint Health

By Devrajan Iyengar, M.D., Chairman, Oncology Dept., Cancer Liaison Physician

For Diane Billingsley of Bayonne, 2004 and 2005 were stressful years. The bloodwork her primary doctor ordered uncovered fibroid tumors, which necessi­tated a hysterectomy. The surgery was successful, and all but one of the tumors were benign. However, that one tumor also indicated something else: the possi­bility of ovarian cancer. She was in an advanced stage. I ordered six months of chemotherapy during the first half of 2005, knowing that two thirds of women with Billingsley’s diagnosis—even with successful chemotherapy— will not survive, succumbing to a relapse of that cancer or a related one within the next three to five years. But 13 years later, Billingsley, now 75, is cancer free and enjoying life. She credits the accu­rate diagnosis, quick action and team­work of her Bayonne Medical Center-affiliated physicians.

Englewood Health, Englewood Hospital

By Mazyar Ghanaat, M.D., Director, Urologic Oncology

Over the past two or three decades, a combination of technological advance­ments and increased knowledge have allowed not only for the improvement in detection of prostate cancer, but also a decrease in overtreatment of the disease. One of the major additions to the field is the multiparametric MRI, which led to the creation of the MRI/ultrasound fusion biopsy. Random systematic biopsies of the past can miss some harmful tumors and, in some cases, detect inconsequential, low- grade cancers. MRI fusion biopsies combine MRI findings with real-time ultrasound images and allow for precise targeting of suspicious areas. Studies have proven this technique improves our ability to detect and localize significant prostate cancer. Our goal is to use this technology to eliminate needless surgeries, invasive tests, wasted efforts and allow us to more accurately inform our patients about their options. At Englewood Health, we perform the systematic biopsy in conjunction with the new, targeted fusion biopsy to optimize effective cancer treatment.

Hackensack University Medical Center, Hackensack Meridian Health

By Michael Stifelman, M.D., Chair of Urology; Director of Robotic Surgery, Urologic Oncology, John Theurer Cancer Center; Professor and Chair of Urology, Hackensack Meridian School of Medicine at Seton Hall University

Hackensack University Medical Center’s Urology Department leads the way in the comprehensive treatment of prostate cancer, offering patients a range of options including advanced diagnostics and radiotherapy, innovative gene therapy and robotic surgery. The Prostate Cancer Program at John Theurer Cancer Center is one of New Jersey’s largest and features a multidisci­plinary team that employs the latest advances to develop personalized treatment plans. Several factors place Hackensack in a leadership role in treat­ing prostate cancer, including fusion guided biopsies that combine MRI and ultrasound imaging to more precisely detect the disease and pinpoint areas for treatment; active surveillance, which leverages genomic testing, to closely monitor cases that do not require imme­diate treatment; focal therapy that uses targeted techniques—such as cryosurgery or high-intensity ultra­sound—to destroy cancer within the gland while sparing healthy tissue; immunotherapy, including the only state approved Advanta-Gene therapy trial designed to harness the body’s immune system in fighting the cancer in patients undergoing radiation or on active surveillance; and robotic surgery, which lessens pain, blood loss and recov­ery time. More than 5,000 robotic prostate surgeries were performed at the center over the last decade.

Holy Name Medical Center

By Sharyn N. Lewin, M.D., FACS, FACOG, Director, Division of Gynecologic Oncology, Patricia Lynch Cancer Center

At the Patricia Lynch Cancer Center at Holy Name Medical Center, our gyneco­logic oncologists treat patients with can­cer by focusing on the unique medical and emotional needs of each woman. We know all of our patients personally and spend time with them going over the best treatment plan for them. We use advanced technology—such as the daVinci® robotic surgical system and minimally invasive procedures—to per­form complex surgery for ovarian cancer and related conditions. We also use tar­geted therapies that help stop cancer cells from growing, and HIPEC, which delivers heated chemotherapy directly to cancer cells in the abdomen. Research has shown that HIPEC often achieves better results than traditional IV thera­py. Many of our patients participate in clinical trials that offer them innovative new treatments. At the Cancer Center our entire team follows our patients for the rest of their lives so that we can help them improve their quality of life. We encourage them to use integrative therapies, such as acupuncture, massage, and nutrition therapy, which help patients feel and heal better. We also advise patients who are at high risk for developing ovarian cancer and other related cancers to consider genetic test­ing and counseling for themselves and their family members so that they can take steps to prevent the disease.

Jefferson Health—New Jersey

By Robin Wilson-Smith, M.D., Medical Director, Gynecologic Oncology Services, Sidney Kimmel Cancer Center

Ovarian cancer is the leading cause of gynecologic cancer death in women. More than 22,000 women in the United States are diagnosed annually with ovar­ian cancer. Unfortunately, more than 14,000 of these women will die, largely because ovarian cancer often shows no signs, and goes undiagnosed until it has progressed to an advanced stage. To sig­nificantly improve the currently unfavor­able prognosis of women diagnosed with advanced stage ovarian cancer, the development of new treatment methods is imperative. In recent years, there have been significant advancements in cancer treatment for gynecologic cancers. Immunotherapy is a treatment that uses the body’s own immune system to help fight cancer. It is currently being used to target specific genetic alterations in tumors, which results in helping the immune system eliminate the cancerous tumor. Specific treatment combinations using immunotherapy are being studied in clinical trials. Some of the combina­tions have been successful in treating other types of cancer, which may make them promising options in the treat­ment of ovarian cancer, as well.

Jersey Shore University Medical Center, Hackensack Meridian Health

By Verda Hicks, M.D., FACS, FACOG, Chief, Gynecologic Oncology; Medical Director, Gynecologic Oncology, Hackensack Meridian Health Cancer Care in Monmouth, Ocean and Middlesex Counties

Identifying women who are at high risk for certain reproductive system cancers can be a critical piece of infor­mation gained during genetic testing. At Jersey Shore University Medical Center, women will now have access to a new one-stop clinic for assessment of risk for ovarian, breast or fallopian tube cancers, as well as associated intestinal malignancies. Cancer specialists at Jersey Shore University Medical Center are opening a specialty clinic this fall, com­bining their joint expertise in the areas of gynecologic, breast and gastro-intestinal cancers. This coordinated approach provides a standard of care, assessment and management techniques for screening and, if indicated, prophy­lactic services. Should a cancer be identi­fied, the team is then able to provide immediate counseling and planning for treatment. For individuals who may develop cancer, these experts take a multifaceted approach to treating gyne­cologic cancers in a holistic environment, which enables the team to provide cus­tomized solutions for cancers that will benefit each patient’s physical and emo­tional recovery. Through collaboration with a highly skilled multidisciplinary team—and the patient—a comprehen­sive and personalized treatment plan is created. Treatment options include chemotherapy, radiation delivered by state-of-the-art technology systems and advanced surgical procedures.

Rutgers Cancer Institute of New Jersey

By Lorna Rodriguez, M.D., Ph.D., Chief of Gynecologic Oncology; Professor of Obstetrics, Gynecology and Reproductive Sciences at Rutgers Robert Wood Johnson Medical School

A patient of mine, Dee Sparacio, was diagnosed with stage IIIB ovarian cancer in 2005. She underwent a hys­terectomy and had chemotherapy as part of her treatment, and she also took part in a phase I clinical trial at Rutgers Cancer Institute of New Jersey to deter­mine the effectiveness of the trace mineral selenium on ovarian cancer. The cancer recurred in 2008, and Mrs. Sparacio underwent surgery followed by chemotherapy. She finished treat­ment in 2009 and has been cancer free since. This former high school teacher is now a patient advocate who helps educate others about ovarian cancer. It has been more than a decade since this patient took part in the selenium clinical trial. Science has rapidly advanced since then. Along with high-tech advances such as robotic surgery offered at Rutgers Cancer Institute, in conjunction with Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital (an RWJBarnabas Health facility), cutting-edge treatments in the form of vaccine and immunother­apy and precision medicine clinical trials are helping patients with advanced stage ovarian and other cancers have treatment alternatives they didn’t have 10 or 12 years ago.

Saint Barnabas Medical Center, RWJBarnabas Health

By Alison Grann, M.D., Chair, Dept. of Radiation Oncology

The department of radiation oncology at Saint Barnabas Medical Center (SBMC) treats patients using the most advanced technology. With the addition of CyberKnife, the world’s first and only robotic radiosurgery system, we can treat prostate cancer patients with laser-like precision in five treatments, instead of 40-45 treatments with conventional therapy. CyberKnife is painless, safe and effective. The reduction in treatment time is because of its ability to target the tumor in real time with continual image guidance, while delivering a high dose safely. Additionally, the Radiation Oncology Department at SBMC is the first hospital in the area to utilize the SpaceOAR® System for prostate cancer patients. While radiation treatment has become more targeted, one of the biggest risks of radiation therapy of the prostate is injury to the rectum due to its proximity. The SpaceOAR® System is a temporary hydrogel spacer that’s injected between the rectum and prostate to increase the area between the two. The gel doesn’t interfere with treatment but acts as a barrier. It re-mains in place for up to six months, after which it’s reabsorbed into the body. The SpaceOAR® has been found in clinical trials to reduce damage to the rectum and minimize other side effects.

Saint Peter’s University Hospital

By Gopal Desai, M.D., Chair, Radiation Oncology

Chester Janusz was a life­long educator who was enjoying retire­ment with his wife Priscilla. The two led an active lifestyle which included fre­quent travel, especially a love for cruis­ing. Blessed with good health for most of his life, Chester was “a bit shocked” to learn he had prostate cancer. His urologist referred him to me. After reviewing Mr. Janusz’s medical history, I felt strongly that he was a candidate for CyberKnife® Robotic Stereotactic Radiosurgery. CyberKnife delivers beams of high-dose radiation with pinpoint accuracy in a manner that minimizes damage to surrounding healthy tissue. Its popularity with patients is due to the fact that it offers a non-invasive option, allowing individuals to avoid surgery. The procedure is also painless, without side effects and is performed in only five treatments rather than the traditional 40 treatments. After receiving three treatments (out of the required five), Chester turned to me and asked if I could be sure the procedure was work­ing because he was not experiencing any pain or discomfort. My response was that it was in fact working, some­thing that I was able to confirm after seeing that his PSA (prostate-specific antigen) levels had begun to decrease. Since concluding treatment, I am pleased to report that Chester has resumed his regular activities.

Valley-Mount Sinai Comprehensive Cancer Care

By Ephrain S. Casper, M.D., Chief Medical Officer

The latest advances for the diagnoses and treatment of prostate cancer include a new radiation treat­ment option for selected patients called stereotactic body radiotherapy (SBRT). Prostate SBRT involves the delivery of a complete course of radiation therapy in just five short treatments, allowing patients to continue their normal activi­ties without the interruption of a tradi­tional nine-week course of treatment. Clinical trials have demonstrated excel­lent results in terms of disease control with very low risks of long-term, treat­ment-related side effects. In addition, patients receiving radiation therapy for prostate cancer are now being offered an innovative new technology called SpaceOAR® hydrogel. The gel-like mate­rial temporarily moves the rectal wall away from the prostate during radiation therapy, decreasing the amount of radi­ation that the patient’s rectum receives during prostate treatments, which can reduce complications associated with radiation therapy. We are also proud to offer a new technology that allows for more a more precise diagnosis of prostate cancer. It’s called fusion-guided biopsy; and Valley is proud to offer the UroNav Fusion Biopsy System to its patients. This system fuses pre-biopsy MRI images of the prostate with ultra­sound-guided biopsy images in real time, so that suspicious areas can be precisely targeted.

Growing Business Opportunities in NJ’s Cannabis Industry: A Legal Perspective

NEW JERSEY’S LAWS ARE BEING reviewed to accommodate a new cannabis industry that will create jobs, increase tax revenues and launch ancillary businesses. Law firms are actively involved in shaping this market for clients that want to invest and oper­ate companies that will face conflicting state and federal laws. COMMERCE asked the Cannabis Practice Leaders at New Jersey’s top law firms to game out the legal landscape facing this growing industry in the Garden State.


By William J. Caruso, Esq., Of Counsel, Cannabis Group Practice Leader

New Jersey has a chance to do something profoundly different than other states that have previously taxed and regulated marijuana for adult use. Our location, experience in pharma and agriculture, a highly-educated workforce, and proximity to a large con­sumer market give New Jersey a signifi­cant advantage. Our challenge is to make sure that all New Jerseyans can benefit from this new economy, if they choose.

Brach Eichler LLC

By Charles X. Gormally, Esq., Member, Co-Chair, Cannabis Law Practice; Chair, Litigation Practice

New Jersey is moving to an adult use, taxed and regulated cannabis market­place. By creating a licensing regime that vets business participants, the state can insure a responsible and account­able model for others to emulate. Enhanced tax revenues driven by the cultivation, distribution and retailing of cannabis products will generate hun­dreds of millions of dollars in new tax revenue. Investment in vacant land, distressed retail space and warehouse facilities will promote higher local tax revenues. High quality jobs in produc­tion facilities, testing labs and retail environments will create a multiplier effect of economic activity as the mar­ketplace matures. Challenges remain. Federal reclassification of cannabis as currently proposed is a vitally impor­tant change that would foster business growth. We must also aggressively correct the social unfairness of prohibi­tion that has unfairly impacted minority populations through failed incarcera-tion policies.

Chiesa Shahinian & Giantomasi PC

By Lee Vartan, Esq., Member, Chair, Cannabis Law Group

The Murphy Administration has left no doubt—in 2019, the state will have many more medical marijuana dispensaries, cultivators and processors. Legislative action is not required. Expansion can happen—and will happen—through regulatory change alone. New Jersey’s Department of Health has already begun the process, which is good news for patients and the econ­omy alike. New Jersey will see the creation of a robust cannabis industry, complete with strong, New Jersey-based businesses and thousands of new jobs. Legally, it is also an exciting time. As the Department of Health wrestles with new regulations and the legislature new statutes, there is incredible opportunity to help form the laws that will ultimate­ly shape the industry. CSG is helping to position its clients to be among those awarded licenses from the state.

Connell Foley LLP

By W. Nevins McCann, Esq., Chair, Cannabis Law Group

Overall, the multi-billion-dollar North American cannabis industry will no doubt bring jobs and tax revenue to New Jersey; howev­er, the state is well-situated to create a distinguished path of its own. With New Jersey’s reputation as being both the “Garden State” and the “pharmaceuti­cal belt” due to its strengths in the agri­cultural and biopharmaceutical indus­tries (being home to 14 of the world’s 20 largest pharmaceutical companies), the cannabis industry plays a future and vital role in both New Jersey’s economy and the entire medical field. While ille­gal under federal law, the FDA recently approved cannabis-derived medication for epilepsy, signaling new opportunities for New Jersey’s pharmaceutical, med­ical, agricultural and cannabis industries to collaborate and develop new medica­tions, thereby addressing debilitating health conditions while also increasing employment opportunities in a growing industry.

Day Pitney LLP

By Steven Cash, Esq., Counsel, Chair, Cannabis Practice

The opportunities for New Jersey’s cannabis industry are immense; namely, to profit from one of the largest state economies in the country. This will no doubt draw many cannabis entrepreneurs to the Garden State. However, the challenges faced by the industry are also immense. Marijuana possession, sale or cultivation remains a federal felony; federal conspiracy and aiding and abetting of the law criminalizes the assistance or much participation in cannabis enterprises. Many New Jersey municipalities will reject grow facilities and dispensaries. The black market for marijuana won’t go away overnight. Nevertheless, while the industry’s potential may be realized over a longer time period than many would like, New Jersey seems poised to generate revenue through taxation of cannabis. New Jersey’s economy will likely benefit from an influx of jobs and investment.

Fox Rothschild LLP

By Joshua Horn, Esq., Co-Chair Cannabis Law Practice Group

New Jersey is sitting on a potential revenue and job-creating opportunity through its medical mari­juana program. The key to its success is the fact that New Jersey, by being a commuter state for New York and Philadelphia, has certain population densities throughout the state who can benefit from a more robust pro­gram. The other advantage that New Jersey has over other states is the fact that it is a farming state—it has space to develop large-scale cultivation centers. The challenge for New jersey will be if Delaware, New York and/or Pennsylvania adopt adult-use pro- grams. If that happens, there is a risk that patients would go over state lines to get cannabis without the need of a doctor and then self-medicate.

Genova Burns LLC

By Michael McQueeny, Esq., Chair, Cannabis Law Group

Like any emerging indus­try, new entrants in New Jersey have the distinct opportunity to help craft and define the outcome of a regulated marketplace. Social justice and revenue initiatives aside, demystify­ing medical marijuana and getting the public to understand the medical benefits and uses of cannabis has been a challenge, based on our conversations in the marketplace. In addition, due to issues concerning the legality of marijua­na and confusion over adult-use legal­ization in New Jersey, it has been diffi­cult for certain companies to conduct business and get financing. Yet the opportunities are endless. Harmony Dispensary, which just opened its state-of-the-art facility in Secaucus, has hired about 40 employees and continues to expand. New Jersey is poised to add a slew of other dispensaries, and these and other cannabis-related businesses will require attorneys, accountants, real estate consultants and other ancillary services.

Greenbaum, Rowe, Smith & Davis LLP

By Jack Fersko, Esq., Chair, Cannabis Industry Practice Group

Proper regulatory controls are essential. The business sector will need to understand the fine line between federal and state law, as well as complex accounting, banking and financial issues. Social justice issues must be properly satisfied. Potential tax revenues and savings, however, are significant, and are not limited to revenues from taxes on sales alone. Revenues will also come from state and municipal application fees and business opportunities in the areas of agriculture, architecture, construction, consulting, engineering, lighting, packaging, security, transporta­tion and waste disposal. These will add significant job growth and related income. The legalization of possession and use of marijuana will also save mil­lions of dollars in enforcement and incarceration expenses. Properly imple­mented, these challenges will be met, and the resulting opportunities will benefit the entire state.

Harwood Lloyd, LLC

By John W. McDermott, Esq., Cannabis Practice Leader

A host of opportunities will be created as New Jersey moves toward uniting its medical cannabis industry with a legalized recreational one. Notwithstanding the same, the addition of recreational sales will also create a host of bureaucratic difficulties integrating traditional business, lending, zoning and employment laws (to name a few), with both federal and state reg­ulatory laws, some of which conflict with each other. Our professionals are familiar with navigating these chal­lenges and look forward to working with those seeking to capitalize on the opportunities this growing industry will present. The regulation and controlled distribution of cannabis will help stimu­late job creation and foster business opportunities for entrepreneurs, while concurrently offering an added source of tax revenue to help alleviate the heavy fiscal burden currently plaguing our state.

McCarter & English, LLP

By David F. Broderick, Esq., Cannabis Practice Leader

Besides issues with banks accepting canna- bis-related money, the biggest challenge will be compliance—regulations regard­ing growing, per-person purchase limits, and precise labeling and packaging requirements. Some states that have legalized recreational marijuana have seen 100,000 jobs created so far, from seed harvesters to growers, warehouse workers to security services, and delivery and transportation services to whole-sale distributors and shop ownership. Where legal, cannabis is heavily taxed, with some states seeing annual revenue increases of hundreds of millions of dollars. Depending on the scope of New Jersey’s legislation and the result­ing size of the recreational industry, we could experience similar increases, but it’s too early to give even a rough estimate. That’s all a direct benefit from the cannabis sector. We also expect to see cottage industries spring up, multi­plying the beneficial effects.

Norris McLaughlin & Marcus, P.A.

By Keya C. Denner, Esq., Chair, Marijuana Law Group

This is an exciting, but uncertain time for New Jersey’s cannabis industry. The state’s previously stagnant medical program has been growing exponentially since Governor Murphy signed an executive order expanding the list of qualifying medical conditions and removing other barriers. The main challenge currently facing the industry is whether there is enough support among Trenton lawmakers to not only continue to expand the medical pro­gram, but to also legalize cannabis for adult recreational use. If a bill for recreational use gets through the legislature and onto Governor Murphy’s desk, there is great potential for the creation of new jobs and for the sharing of tax revenue among municipalities that allow the sale of cannabis.

NPZ Law Group, P.C.

By David H. Nachman, Esq., U.S. Managing Attorney

NPZ Law Group, P.C., an immigration and nation­ality law firm, predicts that New Jersey’s emerging, dare we say “budding” cannabis industry will make major contribu­tions to future tax revenues and create jobs for U.S. workers. EB-5 Investor Visa, an immigrant visa leading to a Green Card, and the E-2 Visa, a temporary non-immigrant visa, enable foreign nationals to purchase real estate, invest in dispen­saries and hire U.S. workers to run the new operations. Chemists and research professionals on H-1B and O-1 visas will create new initiatives in medical marijua­na, while foreign nationals on J-1 and H-3 non-immigrant visas will implement training programs which, in turn, create new jobs. Although legalization of cannabis is a controversial topic, it would bring jobs, economic wealth, and sub­stantial tax revenues to New Jersey.

Riker Danzig Scherer Hyland & Perretti LLP

By Jason D. Navarino, Esq., Partner, Cannabis Law Group Leader

For those seeking to break into New Jersey’s cannabis industry, the time is now. The medical marijuana market here is being opened to more partici­pants, and legalization of recreational use may be coming soon. Businesses that get in early may be best positioned to secure market share and become leaders in this emerging industry. As long as cannabis remains illegal at the federal level, however, industry participants face numerous challenges relating to bank­ing, raising capital, taxation, enforcing their rights in court and avoiding feder­al investigations. If Colorado is any indi­cator, New Jersey does stand to substan­tially increase its tax revenues and cre­ate jobs in both the cannabis industry and in ancillary industries through the expansion of medical marijuana and the legalization of recreational marijuana.

Scarinci Hollenbeck

By Daniel T. McKillop, Esq., Chair, Cannabis Law Group

The development and expansion of the legal cannabis industry in New Jersey will create a host of economic and societal opportunities. For example, the industry will create new jobs, generate tax rev­enues, put underutilized properties to use, foster investment in New Jersey, and enable the state to address inequitable cannabis-related prosecution of minority populations and to provide needed medical care to an increased number of New Jerseyans. Realizing these opportunities requires navigation of complex but necessary legislative and political processes and attention to legit­imate concerns regarding the industry, all of which takes time and effort. But if done thoughtfully, and if the market is right-sized and regulated in a manner that will support continued develop­ment, the legal cannabis industry will succeed and significantly benefit New Jersey and its citizens.

Sills Cummis & Gross P.C.

By Robert E. Schiappacasse, Esq., Co-Chair, Cannabis Industry Practice Group

The cannabis industry will boost the state’s economy by creat­ing an array of well-paying jobs and a growing stream of state sales and income tax revenue as businesses com­pete for a virtually untapped consumer market. Moreover, the product will offer pain relief to thousands and is likely to decrease prescription drug overdose and opioid abuse. On the other hand, federal law still considers marijuana an addictive drug with no medicinal value and deems its production and sale crimi­nal. Were it not for a flexible federal enforcement policy, the industry would be at serious risk. Moreover, as a mood-altering recreational substance, like alcohol, cannabis requires complex state regulation. In sum, though growth of the industry seems inevitable, challenges abound, and each step forward must be taken carefully.

Wilentz, Goldman & Spitzer P.A.

By Michael F. Schaff, Esq., Shareholder, Co-Chair, Cannabis Group; Chair, Health Law and Corporate Groups

Recent projections have estimated a $34 billion cannabis industry nationally and a $110 million market in New Jersey by 2021. Naturally, the revenue opportu­nities for those conducting business across the market’s supply chain, from suppliers to healthcare professionals, should fall within and perhaps even exceed these projections. The state stands to benefit from a taxable, bur­geoning, commercial cannabis industry. However, care should be taken to not overburden the state’s infrastructure and to address potential health and safety risks, such as adolescent usage and driving while impaired.

Don’t Be A Sitting Duck

Small businesses are under attack. Right now, extremely dangerous and well-funded cybercrime rings from all over the world are using sophisticated methods to hack into small business systems to steal company and client information. Some rings are even being funded by their own governments.

Their weapon of choice―SPAM. Statistica reports that as of March 2018, over 48% of email traffic worldwide is SPAM―many carrying malware designed to infiltrate networks through infected workstations.

Fact: there is no one security system that is 100% effective in preventing a cyber-attack, especially when humans are involved. People are the weakest link and consistently click on infected links or open virus-laden attachments in SPAM emails. That’s why SPAM is so prevalent.

However, there are some things you can do now to protect your business:

  • Make sure your employees are aware of how attacks occur. Have them read our blog and pass around this newsletter. In fact, learn to identify SPAM emails. Read our post on the subject.
  • Patch and update Operating systems and third-party applications continually.
  • Update anti-virus/anti-malware programs on all systems and never operate without them.
  • Don’t click on any links or open attachments in unsolicited emails. Hackers often spoof well known, trusted brands. If you cannot verify using their official, published contact info―delete it.
  • Most financial institutions don’t send attachments. They’ll post messages and documents to your account. Never click on anything in the email, always go to their official website and log into your account. Anything of importance would be noted there; or just call them.
  • Disable Office macros. Hackers use macros to deliver malicious payloads when targets open attachments. Disabling macros gives you an added layer of protection in case you mistakenly open an attachment in an email (which you should never do).
  • Enable two-factor authentication, where available.
  • Limit access to confidential files to only those that need it.
  • No one should operate their workstation on a normal basis with administrative-level rights.
  • Most important―businesses should install a Hybrid-cloud Business Continuity system to protect its data. While Business Continuity systems cannot prevent ransomware and other malicious attacks, they can ensure fast and complete recovery—data backup only protects you from data loss, not from downtime. Many go out-of-business waiting to recover.

For a business, it is not a matter of if, but when it will experience a cyber-attack. How well you prepare your company to respond to such a disaster could be the difference between going forward or closing your doors for good.

Don’t be a sitting duck. Act now!

Cannabis and Land Use Regulations: Engineering the Uncharted Territory

As more states legalize cannabis, states and their municipalities across the country are grappling with decisions relating to developing regulations. Medical/recreational cultivation, distribution, sale, and cannabis usage all need to be taken into consideration. This makes things complicated for officials to create guidelines for land use. For states considering legalization, municipalities within that state may enforce a “home rule” to outright ban or carefully plan land use regulations that fit their specific municipality. Without a precedent to follow, land development professionals will need to look to regulations for farmlands and medical facilities to advise potential best practices.

The relaxation of state regulations has allowed for medical cannabis cultivation warehouses and dispensaries to open in highly urbanized areas. While it’s difficult at this point to determine the lasting positive or negative effects of cannabis regulations on our communities, it’s imperative to join with grass-roots coalitions and our governing bodies at all levels to come up with master plan amendments and redevelopment zoning changes that can shape where our communities are heading.

To start, land use professionals need to ask a few questions to determine which regulations are necessary.

  • With cultivation, will the cannabis be grown indoors or outdoors? And how will it be secured and monitored? If grown outdoors, will it be regulated as farmlands are?
  • With distribution, will it be sold wholesale or retail? Will it be shipped? If so, how and when? Will it be stored on the premises and how much traffic will this generate in the area?
  • With medical and/or recreational use, will dispensaries be indoors or outdoors? Should cannabis use be restricted to indoors or outdoors, night or daytime use? What regulations are required for proper lighting, ventilation and buffering? Should there be a detoxification area?

In the end, land use professionals will have to look at existing guidelines and review:

  • Layout – how does the layout work with the current land use pattern? Is there proper buffering from adjoining uses?
  • Grading and Drainage –Considering if the cannabis is grown outdoors, what are the effects of soil stabilization and erosion control?
  • Utilities – What is the facility’s need for water, sewer, electric, and gas? Could green practices or energy conservation be employed to power these facilities?
  • Landscaping and Lighting – Buffering around the facility must be reviewed, especially with lighting to provide security for limited or 24/7 facilities.
  • Environmental Impact – what impacts does cannabis have on the development of blights? What rezoning, if any, must happen?

Pennoni offers support to municipalities and developers who need professional consulting engineers to advise on land use planning and engineering for the medical/recreational cultivation, distribution, sale and use of cannabis. For more information, contact [email protected].

Todd M. Hay, PE, CME, serves as Regional Vice President for Pennoni’s Northern New Jersey, New York, and New England Regions. For more than 25 years, Todd has been involved in a variety of projects including in transportation and traffic; utilities; parks and recreation; K-12; colleges/universities; and rooftop/ground mount solar. His work experience has included client contact and coordination; in-house review of site plan and subdivision projects for entitlement compliance; preparation and coordination of site plans and technical specifications for bidding purposes; preparation of site plans for entitlement submission; expert witness testimony before local, county and state authorities; and contract administration and construction support services for both private and public projects.