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The dangers of email every NHS board member should know about

Posted by Paul Neefjes on 19 April, 2018

A lot of internal communication across board members within NHS organisations happens through email. A medium that has been around for decades. Everyone knows how it works and safety is guaranteed, right? But is email as secure as we think it is? In this article you will learn what the possible dangers of email are and how to protect your board from these threats.

NHS reliance on email communications

According to Daniel Reynolds, director of communications at NHS Providers, the NHS is too reliant on email for communications. This is worrying, especially because recent cases like the WannaCry attack and other ransomware attacks last year, show that NHS organisations are still very vulnerable to cyberattacks. There have been recent cases of NHS organisations having their complete email network shut down, missing conference calls because details were only send through email.

However, a lot of us do not care about the safety of our email traffic. We just assume that the emails we send and receive are secure and protected against leakage or cyberattacks. In reality email can be an easy entry way to sensitive information within your organisation. It turns out that email phishing is one of the most common forms of cyberattacks. This shows that email might not be as safe as you think. What dangers of email do board members have to be aware of and how can you protect your board against email phishing, data breaches and cyberattacks facilitated through email traffic?

The dangers of email communication

Just like the intranet, users have no control over who accesses documents once they are downloaded and emailed, and there is no guarantee that the one who receives the email ever saw the material. If you are sending the information to a board member’s business email, there are often restrictions to the size of files which can create problems. Also, the information is stored on another organisation’s server. Email addresses like Hotmail, Yahoo!, Gmail and other email service providers are often used by board members. These are more susceptible to hacking and data breaches.

Print and mail

Print and mail is probably the most unsecure, and also expensive and labour intensive. In many cases, the total page count of board materials can be 100-200+ pages with several board members each receiving a binder. This results in additional time and increased costs spent sorting, packaging and mailing. Avoiding print and mail thus has an immediate effect.

Careless human errors

A lot of board members are unaware of the risks that email communication brings along. A careless approach by humans accounts for the majority of email errors and data leakage through email. A simple link leading to sensitive information distributed through email, can already put an organisation in great danger. Board members should always be aware of the potential risks that email communications brings along.

How to protect yourself against these threats?

Nowadays there are a lot of alternatives to email that help you to keep your board meeting documents safe and secure. The best solution is a board portal. One application in which all board meeting documents are stored, edited and distributed among board members and meeting attendees. All of this happens in a totally safe and secure environment.

A board portal enables board members to easily communicate with each other and send each other documents through the cloud. No more need for sending emails that contain sensitive information. Once information is shared within the board portal, it stays within the board portal. Only those who have access to this board portal have the ability to access these documents. Sensitive information will therefore stay inside the organisation. Furthermore, just like email, a board portal is platform independent. Which means that you can access and edit all board meeting documents on all your devices, whenever you want, wherever you want.

The need for a change in culture

Basically, a board portal has all the advantages that email has, with the huge asset that a board portal is a lot more secure. The biggest challenge for boards actually lies within implementation and adoption of the board portal. Since people are so used to using email as main communication tool within a lot of organisations, a culture change will be needed in order to fully abandon email and totally embrace a board portal.

However, if you do convince your board that email is outdated and that a board portal is the way to go for organisations that want to adjust to current times, the benefits for your board and organisations in general will be huge.

Say goodbye to email

It is time to get serious about security. The likelihood of sensitive information finding its way to malicious actors is a horror scenario, and can be avoided through implementing security measures into a board’s routine. Abandoning email and adopting a board portal could be a first step. Want to know more about possible security threats for your organisation and how to protect against them? This e-book about improving security for NHS boards provides you with more useful information.

Topic: Board members, NHS, Communication

iBabs is a leader in paperless meetings and enables you to reduce these piles of documents to the thickness of your tablet. Hundreds of organizations have been using this system for more than 15 years.

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