In recent years, the use of digital solutions in the boardroom has mushroomed.

The evolution and widespread adoption of technology like iPads, the drive for greater corporate governance and directors’ desires for user-friendly meeting papers have propelled the growth of board portals as a means of delivering board packs.

With security a key concern for all organisations, and the incidence of cyber-crime increasing, we explore the impact of digitalisation on board security. How far can you really ensure your digital boardroom is secure?

Creating the digital boardroom

The way board meetings are prepared and run, and the way papers are delivered, are all unrecognisable from the process of just a decade ago.

Regulatory demand for audit trails and robust record-keeping, alongside increased willingness by directors and company secretaries to make use of familiar technology, have driven a revolution in board pack production, delivery and storage.

One of the reasons for the boardroom’s rapid digitalisation has been the recognition that it can benefit everybody involved – the  company secretary or administrator who has to assemble the packs; the director who is the end user.

By reducing the administrative burden of production, by making it easier to collate and publish board papers, portals can ease the role of the team responsible for producing the packs. They can make papers accessible on the go, a real plus for busy directors who often want to catch up on pre-meeting admin while travelling, without the need to carry hefty board packs.

As long as your chosen portal is intuitive and user-friendly and easy, it can give board members the information they need while simultaneously saving money and improving corporate governance.

One question, though, that has repeatedly been asked in relation to digital board papers – are they truly secure? Can corporate information – often sensitive or confidential data – be shared digitally in a way that doesn’t compromise security? As cyber-risk becomes a growing concern, and cyber-criminals’ approaches ever-more sophisticated, does digitalisation pose a security risk?

Improving security via digital solutions

One would argue that, in fact, digitalisation can improve, rather than jeopardise, your firm’s security. Why?

First, think about delivery. With paper-based packs, typically, hard copy papers would be couriered or posted to directors. This could lead to security issues, particularly with non-execs who would tend to have packs sent to their home addresses. If they were out, packs would be left on the doorstep…behind a gate…over a wall – none of which are optimal for information on your confidential strategic plans and most sensitive corporate data.

When digitalisation first came into play, email became the delivery method of choice, bringing its own issues. Aside from the size of the attachments, which could hinder delivery, the security implications of sending confidential information over non-encrypted email servers are obvious.

Using a board portal, delivery is secure. The best portals are hosted on highly-secure servers, giving you assurance that data transfer is protected.

Ongoing data management, too, is safe, with board portals automatically providing a compliant audit trail of board papers. Outsourced hosting is recommended, as it delivers a more secure solution that gives you access to the latest technology, and where any updates are automatically applied to keep pace with changing risks.

The best portal providers will ensure their systems are regularly security checked and tested by independent security experts to ensure they are water-tight. Disaster recovery plans will be kept up to date, with robust processes for recovering any lost data.

Security around access to board information can also be improved via the use of a portal. A good solution will require two-factor authentication to prevent unauthorised access. Permissions will govern the information each user can access, with the ability to edit documents limited to those who need it.

It’s clear rather than creating a security threat, there are numerous security benefits to digitalisation. And of course, the advantages of increased security extend beyond the security itself. Better corporate governance is a welcome side-effect of improved security; with governance an issue boards have been taken to task on, anything that leads to improvements has to be welcomed.

Improving security by digitalising your boardroom

It’s clear, then, that far from jeopardising security, a digital boardroom can actually be more secure than its paper-reliant counterpart. A more secure operation is just one of the benefits of a digital approach.

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