What Your Board Materials Reveal About Information Security

  • By: Abby Kane
  • September 23, 2022
Board materials
Reading Time: 5 minutes

Board materials

How organizations manage and secure their unregulated data can reveal their natural and cultural approach to information security.

Most companies have a solid plan for managing and protecting regulated data against breaches and accidental leaks by stakeholders. However, how the same companies manage and secure unregulated data reveals their approach to information security. Perhaps there is no better indicator for this than how the organization’s board of directors works with its board materials.

Boards use different standards to distribute and consume board materials like board packs, minutes, and policy documents. These range from consumer file-sharing sites or email and paper-driven meetings to purpose-built board portals

Read on to learn how information security relates to board documents and how board leaders can increase document security.


Risks of Sharing Board Materials

Sharing board materials is necessary for directors to collaborate and for the board to run effectively. However, threats exist when sharing board documents, whether the process is physical or occurs on a file-sharing platform. 

Maybe you’re wondering whether you can trust file-sharing apps like Google Drive, Microsoft Azure, and Dropbox. Many people think so. However, you should consider that IT giants created these apps to appeal to the general public. 

Their file-sharing apps may have some security measures, but they weren’t purpose-built to protect the type of sensitive information boards deal with daily. The danger is that inadequately secure file-sharing services take the board’s data outside the company’s protected IT environment. As a result, data privacy goes beyond the board’s control, raising data leak concerns. 

What’s more, cloud services encourage boards to back up their documents in real time and streamline collaboration among members. But even cloud servers can be breached to give an unauthorized person access to sensitive board material. The best way to mitigate this risk is to ensure your service provider encrypts board materials both in storage and while in transit. 

Printed documents can be easily lost or mishandled. Paper is also prone to damage and can easily get stolen. If you don’t have copies, there’s no way to retrieve the information once the files are gone. 


Best Practices for Data Management

Modern boards rely heavily on digital technology to function, which is simultaneously a great opportunity and a risk. It enables boards to function more effectively and efficiently, but data flow can be breached and compromised. 

As a result, protecting valuable intellectual property and board materials in digital form against misuse and theft proves critical in the boardroom. Follow these top data management best practices for boards: 

Understand Risk Implication 

Hardening data security requires the board to understand the reality of threats and their short- and long-term implications. To achieve this, you must determine risk levels and escalations, as well as gain insights into how threats affect the core business. 

Effectively Manage Cyber Risks

This means good governance and implementing supporting processes. Board leaders can achieve this by: 

  • Allocating sufficient resources to deal with cybersecurity
  • Focusing more on cybersecurity topics in board meetings 
  • Actively reviewing and updating information security policies
  • Building an informed and knowledgeable organizational culture

The aim is to ensure board directors are alert to cyber risks and are proactive in raising concerns. Given the significant value of an organization’s information assets, cybersecurity policies should prioritize protecting critical assets rather than implementing a solution to detect every niche threat. 

Evaluate cyber threats across the entire value chain and identify where the most significant risks lie. For most boards, these big risks involve software solutions for producing and distributing board documents.  

Then, ensure the most critical board materials have the highest degree of protection with capable personnel and the right technology. Here are 3 basic steps to mitigate data risks in an organization: 

  1. Prevention: Identify how to block an attack. This could be by implementing key measures to tackle cyber crime and rolling out awareness training to board members and staff. For example, organizations can invest in teaching board members the security differences between personal and corporate-based email and how to spot phishing attacks.
  2. Detection: Consistently monitor traffic data and review relevant incidents and their impact on system performance. 
  3. Response and recovery: Create and follow a well-defined crisis management plan. Since cybersecurity is a continuous process, the plan should be reviewed and practiced regularly.

Control Access to Board Materials

You need intelligent constraints on how board members, support staff, and external parties access board data to protect sensitive information. But remember one thing:  Inadequate safeguards will lead to data loss, while overly stringent controls may hurt board performance. 

Aim for a cybersecurity model that makes the organization resilient and increases flexibility in the face of the most brutal data breaches. 

If directors prefer paper copies during meetings, board leaders should ensure each document is shredded at the end to prevent accidental leaks. Ensure you file one official copy for future reference. 

Store, Organize, and Distribute Board Materials With a Board Management Solution

Each organization faces different data breach threats. Companies should adopt a customized approach to cybersecurity based on the organization type, risks faced, and the available knowledge in the organization. 

Hardening information security starts by identifying critical intellectual assets, then focusing more on preventing cyber criminals from easily accessing the company’s most valuable information. 

OnBoard prioritizes information security for boards. You can securely store, organize, and distribute board materials with OnBoard’s encryption models. 

In addition to top-notch data security, OnBoard enables boards to complete all operations on a single platform without the hassle of printing, photocopying, and physically distributing board materials. It simplifies board member roles by enabling directors to meet, vote, communicate, and access board materials no matter their location. 

Ready to secure your board materials and hold smarter, more effective meetings? Try OnBoard for FREE to see how it drives boards to new heights. 



About The Author

Abby Kane
Abby KaneAbbey Kane
Abby Kane is a Senior Customer Success Manager and has been a Pathfinder since 2019. A graduate of Indiana University, Abby holds a B.S. in Marketing and International Business with a minor in Spanish. "My favorite part of my job is chatting with customers and helping them get more value from their board meetings," she says. Local to Indianapolis with her husband, Sam, Abby is passionate about gardening, travel, NPR, and specialty cocktails.