In an age of rapid innovation, organizations and associations are more vulnerable than ever to cybersecurity threats. The meeting room is no exception. Jeff Middlesworth, CEO of Boardable, explains why an organization’s governing body must now rely on virtual meetings and document exchanges to improve board management.
From the data offenses increased by 15.1% in 2021 compared to the previous year, cybersecurity risk mitigation is more critical than ever. Cybersecurity concerns have only grown since Russia invaded Ukraine. More than half of companies said cybersecurity was the most affected part of their business since the conflict began.
Today, the board is responsible for appointing tech-savvy members and protecting the organization from risk. This is not an easy task. Councils must:
- Set up digital governance committees
- Understand what security features to look for in a tech stack
- Training with different levels of technological know-how
- Implement approaches that combine policy and technology
- Leverage a fully secure virtual meeting platform
How Cyber Security Breaches Affect Your Business
Cybersecurity vulnerabilities come from competitors, foreign powers, hostile hackers, and a lack of security configuration. Yet, as we develop new technologies to prevent hacking, cybercriminals are finding ways to exploit them through phishing, malware, and ransomware attacks to gain access to sensitive and valuable data.
These threats increase the chances of losing a business:
- Business plans
- Customer and employee data
- Financial records
- Intellectual property
- Product ideas
It takes on average 287 days companies to detect a data breach. Companies need to consider these threats and work with their board of directors to develop defense plans.
How advice can help improve cybersecurity
As cybersecurity threats continue to grow, so do effective solutions to prevent attacks. Boards can no longer sit idly by and let IT handle the heavy lifting. Maintaining cybersecurity is not only a technical problem but also an organizational problem. With the power to give businesses the tools and guidance they need to prevent cyber risks, boards are now the first line of defense against online threats.
Mitigating cybersecurity risks now starts with proactive boardrooms.
1. Digital governance committees
Establishing digital governance committees increases your company’s accountability and ultimately improves decision-making around maintaining cybersecurity. Digital governance committees should include people who understand the complexity of cyber risks and how to manage them. Once boards have recruited these digitally savvy committee members, they need to dig deeper into the specifics of cybersecurity risks and, if necessary, how to manage them.
For example, the committee should be prepared to answer the following questions:
- What does a data breach look like?
- What to do in the event of a data breach?
- What measures should be taken to strengthen cybersecurity?
Holistically, your digital governance committee should be able to distinguish outside threats and know how to deal with them.
Learn more: How to Implement a Cybersecurity First Culture
2. Security functions
It has become critical for corporate boards to understand the security features of their company’s technology stack. With malware attacks increase by 358%with ransomware attacks increasing by 435% and phishing attacks accounting for more than 80% of security incidents, organizations must prioritize effective cybersecurity technology, processes and protocols.
Perimeter security technology – a shield for your business – includes web application firewalls, spam filtering, content filtering and anti-virus software. Authentication tools also prevent unwanted guests from spying on your business data. Multi-factor authentication requires a secondary method or device to authenticate users. Other security measures, such as password management, require employees to update their passwords consistently.
Finally, boards should evangelize and encourage companies to implement backup and disaster recovery technologies. This technology allows companies to recover lost information compromised by data breaches.
3. Educated Board Members
The addition of a single board member with cybersecurity knowledge helps colleagues disseminate crucial information on risk prevention and management.
At every meeting, boards should also schedule time to discuss current cybersecurity risks and prevention strategies. By spending time discussing risk, board members have the opportunity to raise questions and define their role in addressing cybersecurity threats.
Finally, companies should include guidance in all cybersecurity training programs. There are many training programs designed to increase cybersecurity knowledge. Your company’s security goals and the board’s current level of knowledge can guide you in choosing the right one.
4. Combine politics and technology
Instead of scaring corporate boards into preventing cybersecurity threats, enlighten them on the importance of protection. For example, boards should encourage IT departments to set strict password requirements for employees and use password management technology to store and update passphrases.
Social media remains the king of the internet. Boards should also set limits on social media for company members. Restrictions include banning employees from sharing sensitive business information online or using social media during working hours.
Despite the growing popularity of remote and hybrid work environments, boards should consider developing and implementing policies dictating how, where, and when employees can access their work devices. Additionally, boards should set restrictions on removable devices or, if necessary, IT departments should perform virus scans before devices connect to corporate systems.
Many companies implement a zero-trust framework that requires all users to be authenticated and authorized before they can access company data and applications. Boards should also consider a zero-trust framework to prevent unauthorized access from unauthorized users.
5. Secure virtual meeting platforms
As more businesses communicate digitally, they must prioritize maintaining security on virtual meeting platforms. With tools such as agenda generators, meeting minutes creators, document centers, polls and votes, and messaging protected by robust security measures, the right virtual meeting technology allows companies to communicate effectively and securely.
When considering a virtual meeting platform, boards should choose one with administrative, technical, and physical safeguards to protect sensitive data. Also make sure that the platform complies with the General Data Protection Regulation.
Data breaches cost businesses a average of $4.35 million by default. This number should raise eyebrows no matter the size of the business. A multi-million dollar data breach depletes assets and puts companies in a precarious financial position.
But failing to prepare for these threats goes beyond monetary value. Companies lose the trust of customers and employees with every data breach – their sensitive data is at risk. Companies suffer significant damage to their reputation. It takes months, even years, for companies to recover from the consequences of cybercrime.
Prowling cybercriminals often go undetected for months. Don’t wait to prioritize cybersecurity. The best time for boards to take the necessary steps to improve their company’s security is now. The health and well-being of their business depends on proactive cybersecurity measures. Boards are essential in helping IT and security teams build a layer of protection around their digital assets and set security standards for the entire organization.