Mitigating risks of Board communication in an era of Virtual Work

In Opinions

Hala Halaseh, Regional Customer Success Manager (MENA) at Diligent Corporation, highlights the risks of virtual work and how to mitigate them in an era of virtual work.

Months into the pandemic, remote work still proves to be more appealing to 90% of the UAE workforce. As COVID-19 cases continue to rise, companies resort to online communications platforms to hold virtual meetings and video conferences. After months of navigating, audio and video options are now memorized by heart, as board members and employees develop adaptive habits to get accustomed to the new work mode.

However, not all adaptive habits have been cyber-safe. With board and C-Suite level executives turning to their personal emails, apps and devices, there are increased security risks that come with sharing sensitive and targetable material. Virtual meetings have become the norm, and many find that the traditional non-verbal cues, which were once saving graces during in-person meetings, do not translate well over video. Therefore, they have resorted to various messaging applications to comment, pose questions, or have sidebar discussions. Although efficient, using instant messaging applications puts the information and senders at risk.

On a positive note, there is an abundance of technological advancements and digital tools available that can provide solutions and strengthen data protection. Companies should invest in such platforms that protect sensitive communications between board members, committees and leadership teams, which require the highest levels of security.

Securing communications and video conferences
With email communications on the rise since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, so have cyber-attacks. The UAE saw more than 600,000 phishing attacks in the second quarter of 2020, as people spend more time on the internet. Companies are looking for secure workflow tools that provide boards and C- level executives with a dedicated channel for sharing, assembling, and collaborating on sensitive materials. Using such channels is essential for a company’s success during these uncertain times, to ensure that all team communications are centralized, instantaneous, and secure.

Also, video conferences have their share of security and safety issues, which is why board members should remain diligent of who is in the calls. Unprotected links call for uninvited guests; if shared in emails, they can easily be forwarded or intercepted by the wrong people. A better approach to sharing links is through a board management software that incorporates a calendar feature, which provides company secretaries and board members a secure channel for sharing video conferencing links.

Information Security: How to keep data safe in an era of virtual communication
Information security has always been crucial for companies, and even more so during a global pandemic. As leadership teams receive regular updates from internal and external stakeholders, they need to ensure that sensitive data are safe. A secure and encrypted governance technology can protect confidential information as it flows to and from the board, as well as enables secure collaboration across the organization. Moreover, now that the world has shifted to online work, many governance committees have moved board evaluations and other critical decision-making processes to survey software such as SurveyMonkey and Google Surveys. However, data breaching is likely to happen on such unencrypted platforms. To avoid any negative impact from breaches, companies should conduct these processes through secure platforms that are also able to analyze data and visualize results.

Virtual work has become a way of life, and board members now shoulder an added responsibility of making sure their data and information do not end up in the wrong place. Not only do organizations need to put significant importance on the well-being of their teams, but also their cybersecurity and governance risks. Fortunately, there are various digital tools available that ensure mitigating the risks. Now is the time to invest in such technologies to keep intruders away from sensitive material that board members need to protect.

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