Of the myriad challenges facing financial institutions in the 21st century, cyber crime is one of the most serious. Hackers target financial institutions using an ever-changing array of strategies; every day new strains of malware and spyware appear, and every month a new data breach comes to light. Banks that want to maintain the trust of their customers need to have a multi-pronged approach to protecting communications and data.
Perhaps unsurprisingly, some of the most prescient financial institutions have been credit unions. Credit unions have a long history of innovation, and they are often among the earliest adopters of new software tools to help improve cyber security. One particular example of this has been the widespread investment in board management software, an electronic communications tool designed to provide a secure portal for sharing board documents and facilitating discussion between board members.
Board portals are essentially an advanced board meeting software that acts as a both virtual storage library and a sophisticated communication tool. Using portal software, board administrators can upload all the documents directors need to review in advance of a board meeting, giving each director instant access to the board book and related data. Unlike less secure tools like Dropbox, portal software includes some of the most sophisticated encryption available and gives users the option of storing their data anywhere in the world, which allows boards to confidently share even the most confidential information, safe in the knowledge that hackers will not be able to reach it.
But while portal software provides serious security, it does not do so at the cost of convenience. One of the reasons board management software options like Aprio have proven so popular among credit union boards is due to its ability to streamline board communications and provide a more frictionless experience than conventional planning and file sharing tools. In addition to giving users access to important board documents, portal software also includes planning aids like agendas and calendars, annotation and confidential polling tools, and chat functions that allow board members to discuss board business and collaborate on solutions remotely.
Perhaps most importantly, portals allow board members to keep all the information they need in a single place — data, graphs, reports, memos, motions, and agendas, as well as chat logs and personal annotations. When it comes time for the meeting, accessing board information through a secure portal isn’t just a good security practice; it also makes for more efficient meetings.
Earlier this year, Security Magazine reported that the cost of cyber crime has now reached $600 billion, and in 2018 banks remain one of the primary targets. This marks an increase of $150 billion over three years, and there are no signs of it slowing down in the near future. Financial institutions that want to survive in this climate will need to fight cyber crime at all levels and institute the most rigorous protections available, and this goes for boards as well. For this reason, larger financial institutions like banks and funds may well want to follow the credit unions’ lead and make portal software a major plank in their communications strategies.