Montana State professor’s research featured in Wall Street Journal article


BOZEMAN — Montana State University assistant professor Yimei Zhang’s research is the backbone of an article that appeared in The Wall Street Journal recently about how suppliers are impacted when a customer is the victim of a cyberattack.

In the story, “Here’s Another Reason a Supplier Should Care if Its Customer is Hacked,” reporter Lisa Ward explains that when their big customers are hit by a cyberattack, suppliers often experience an increase in auditing fees, potentially significant drops in earnings, inventory sitting longer than expected and a lack of cash to make debt payments.

The reporting stems from a paper published last fall by Zhang, who teaches accounting in the Jake Jabs College of Business and Entrepreneurship, and co-author Tom Smith, an associate professor at the University of South Florida, in the International Journal of Accounting Information Systems.

In their article, Zhang and Smith used public companies’ Securities and Exchange Commission filings to identify those whose clients suffered cybersecurity breaches and recommended that suppliers talk to their clients about their cybersecurity protection.

“Based on the economic bond that exists between supplier firms and their major customers, we predict that data breach incidents of customer firms will lead to higher audit fees for their respective suppliers,” Zhang and Smith wrote.

MSU’s business college takes pride in distributing professors’ research to help members of the greater business community. In fact, part of the college’s mission plan is advancing scholarship and sharing meaningful research, whether it be through peer-reviewed journals, conferences, presentations to the public or other impactful outlets, like Zhang’s research being feature in The Wall Street Journal.

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