6 Insecure Channels Your Board Should’ve Stopped Using, Yesterday

Keeping in touch with staff, clients, and board members is increasingly difficult.

In fact, we’d go as far as to say it’s damn near impossible.

Roll back the clock, and a chat around the water cooler would have sufficed. Nowadays? Desks sit unoccupied as sales teams hit the open road. Staff work remotely from home, cafes, or hotel lobbies. And board members? They’re jet setting across cities and timezones alike.

Ugh, what a headache.

Businesswoman sending text messages

Chances are your nonprofit, enterprise, or board has traded casual conversations for familiar communication channels. Email. Text Messages. Or perhaps good ‘ol fashioned Snail Mail? They may be familiar, but did you know they’re also highly insecure?

If you wouldn’t shout it in public, then you probably shouldn’t be saying it over any of these channels:

1. Text Messages & SMS

Haven’t you heard? Flip phones are making a comeback. Thanks for that, Motorola. Fitting hurried thoughts into 160 characters may have been a novelty back in the pre-Twitter days, but there’s nothing iconic or kitsch about relying on text messages for delivering sensitive info.

As a way to capture your customer’s attention, they’re on the rise. But as a channel for sending and receiving vital information, we recommend you look elsewhere. Not convinced? Ever the proponent of an “It’s all good!” or a “Come in for a chat”, healthcare professionals are being told to ditch personal SMS updates by governing bodies as “Messages containing electronic PHI can be read by anyone, forwarded to anyone, remain unencrypted on telecommunication providers’ servers, and stay forever on sender’s and receiver’s phones…

Doctor’s orders, ditch the texts!

2. Couriers & Snail Mail

Paper’s days may be numbered, but most board rooms are still beholden to paper based processes. If nothing else, this reliance on “The good old ways” is keeping couriers busy. Even if it is contributing to skyrocketing operating costs.

If you knew how many parcels and packages went missing each year, you might hesitate before sticking a stamp on that envelope in your hands. Consistently rely on a system with this many moving parts, and it’s fairly likely a single mishap could bring the entire system crashing down.

In this case? It could be something simple. The wrong address stuck to the front of a parcel. An overworked delivery driver leaving a package on the porch that’s later picked up by an unintended third party. This may sound far fetched, but there’s numerous examples of physical documents going walkabouts. What would you do if those sensitive files were never seen again?

Imagine the consequences…

3. Email

Email is the most ubiquitous of this bunch. It’s also the one you may feel the safest using. You use it every day, right? And then there’s all that technical chatter about ‘Encryption’ and ‘Security’. You’ve got nothing to worry about!

Right? Unfortunately, relying on electronic mail for sending sensitive board information is more of an ‘eFail’ than it is ‘eMail’. Even the most secure encryption isn’t immune to cracking, not to mention the same ‘ol pitfalls of many of the end-to-end communication channels mentioned here in that the message, information, and / or documents live on in both the sender’s and recipient’s device.

You had better hope you’ve sent it to the right address.

Or, for that matter, that you don’t need to retrieve it at any point in the future.

What a nightmare!

Facebook Messenger

4. Facebook Messenger

Facebook Messenger remains the go-to communication tool for friends, family, and colleagues. As for its place in the office? It really shouldn’t have one. Cast aside the litany of leaks that point to Facebook manipulating, harvesting, and selling personal data again, and again, and…again – despite repeated claims to the contrary – and Messenger just isn’t the place to be sharing sensitive documents.

No, your board may not have embraced it yet. Or…be able to name it. But chances are more than a few staff members rely on it for daily workplace chatter. Most of this may be harmless, but all it takes is a lazy “user + pass below” or “doc attached” to put your board at risk.

5. Public WiFi

If it’s breaking news that WiFi isn’t as secure as you thought, you probably haven’t been paying attention. Cybersecurity threats move fast, and change that much faster. As do working environments. More people are working on the move. Cafes. Airports. Libraries. The scene may be idyllic, but the security protocols are anything but.

Internal WiFi connections can be monitored and kept secure. Out and about? Not so much. Nefarious, fake third-party hotspots are easy to set up in public spaces. The moment you hit ‘Connect’, you’re handing over the keys to the kingdom.

6. FTP

Internal networks should be a fortress, but even in recent times there are a number of insecure channels that continue to sneak along in the shadows. Sometimes it’s out of sheer habit, ease of use, or, dare we say it, laziness. Why change something if it’s working, right?

Though it may be working, that doesn’t necessarily mean it’s secure. Or that it won’t break, and spectacularly at that. FTP is one such cleartext protocol that continues to persist, even in 2019. It’s still regularly used to upload and share files across internal network drives. Doing so is just asking for trouble.

Client engagement

Secure Alternatives Do Exist, You Just Have To Seek Them Out

With all this doom and gloom, we wouldn’t blame you for feeling defeated.

So, how do you communicate securely in a world where everyone is listening?

There’s no need to resort to carrier pigeons just yet. Fortunately, there are some modern alternatives available on the market that provide a far more secure and sensible solution to these issues.

Board and Document Management Software is one such solution, and it’s taking the market by storm. Software developers like Stellar Library are leading the charge in providing a cost-effective, all-in-one solution that makes it easy to create, share, and collaborate on documents no matter where you or your board find yourself.

While we’re not suggesting you abandon every channel listed above, moving the majority of your communications and collaboration over to a self-contained, security focussed system is the best way to avoid having your sensitive information aired to the world (wide web).