The Boardroom: Are Your Valuables Protected in the Digital Age?

Keeping your valuable data and documents safe

A false sense of security won’t keep your important documents safe

Are you still sending important information via email attachments? Perhaps you’re printing board books, meeting minutes or memos and storing them in locked filing cabinets? Or maybe you’re using digital solutions like Dropbox or Google Drive to collaborate, send, and share?

Storing your files behind lock and key or a password only you know feels secure. However in this connected, digital era many of these traditional methods for keeping your valuable information aren’t as secure as you like to think, and nowhere near as secure as you need them to be…


You’re putting your board documents at risk

Board documents are at risk

Yesterday’s traditional processes like printing and posting, as well as today’s common digital solutions like email are inherently insecure. Take paper, for example. There’s a certain comfort to being able to see, feel, and hold documents in your hand, but you lose visibility as soon as you put them down. Paper is familiar, but it’s also fallible.

On any given day, you could misplace an important report, leave sensitive financial records on the seat of a Taxi, or lose sight of board documents if you’re called away in a hurry. In fact, this happens far more than you might think.

For example…

  • Between 2011 and 2016, the UK’s National Health Service (NHS) misplaced over 500,000 pieces of patient data including blood tests and diagnosis because they were mistakenly stored in a warehouse instead of being delivered to their intended recipients (Source).
  • Across the ditch, and a number of confidential government documents were found in a secondhand shop in Canberra, Australia after a filing cabinet – and the documents within – were sold in an ex-government sale in 2018 (Source).
  • Here in New Zealand, the Canterbury District Health Board is just one example, publishing a report in 2018 that highlighted numerous cases where documents were mistakenly left in public spaces like cafes or taxis (Source).

Many of today’s digital alternatives aren’t much better. They usually feature low levels of security so they’re easier to use, which might be good for consumers, but not for your organisation’s ability to keep valuable data safe. A single breach via an unauthorised third party, a poor password, or a device left in a public space could see your data stolen, misused, or altered.

With valuable information spread across analog and digital channels, achieving complete visibility is increasingly difficult. Has a file or report been taken, moved, or tampered with? Is there a page missing from this 300+ page report? More importantly…would you even know?

These flawed systems don’t provide the visibility or control you require.

The legal and financial ramifications of inaction are costly

The legal ramifications of lost documents could be costly

Imagine a situation where you accidentally send a report to the wrong person, or leave files in an airport lounge as you hurry to make your connecting flight and the board meeting awaiting you on the other side. If your organisation’s data were to fall into the wrong hands, it could be costly.

Sensitive plans or strategic direction, for example, could fall into the hands of competitors or the press, costing you years of hard work and planning that had up until this point given you a strategic advantage. Your reputation may also suffer, with both clients and investors alike.

There’s also the greater financial and legal ramifications to consider. Claiming ignorance doesn’t absolve your organisation of its responsibility to keep information safe. The resulting fines, legal action, and real-world costs could have ongoing, long-lasting ramifications for the future of your organisation. As they already have for countless organisations across the world.

Did you know?

  • In 2018, a law barrister whose “…case papers were found in bin bags” was fined by the Bar Disciplinary Tribunal, while another faced a similar fate after “…a software update on her home computer placed hundred of unencrypted client documents online” (Source).
  • The UK’s Heathrow Airport was recently fined £120,000 when sensitive information stored on a USB device fell into the hands of the general public (Source).

The figures are staggering. Dan Swinhoe of CSO Online reported in October of 2018 that the biggest data breaches had cost eight big name organisations a total of nearly $280 million over the course of the year. And counting.

Dan highlights that:

“There could be even bigger fines on the horizon now that the European Union’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) has come into force. Data regulators in the EU are able to fine upwards of €20 million.”

The question is, can you really afford to sit by and do nothing?


Keeping your board documents safe should be simple

Early on, Stellar identified the need for a single, central board management platform that bridges the gap between what existing solutions offer, and what organisations actually require.

Efficient, industry-leading security is a must for any board management platform. This ensures that all information and files are kept safe, and only accessible by authorised personnel. More than that? It needs to be intuitive. If security comes at the cost of usability, secretaries, staff, and board members alike will flock back to the familiar, insecure methods that already see important documents left sitting on desks, in mail boxes, or email inboxes.

In our experience, boards operate at their best when they’re able to make informed decisions. With the support of a comprehensive board management solution that provides complete visibility, boards are able to do just that with data that’s accessible, up-to-date and, more importantly, secure.

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