Major corporations have been found to have electronic security gaps which could place board-level information open to information theft and hacking, a survey by Thompson Reuters has found.
The survey of board members of UK and global corporations found that information provided to members of corporate boards of directors was often in unencrypted email accounts and computers, or provided in easily lost forms.
Over three quarters (78%) of companies admitted that board documents were stored on personal computers at home or at work, while 75% also said that board documents were stored on personal mobile devices such as an iPad, laptop or smartphone.
Just under three quarters (73%) also said that documents sent to broad members, used personal, non-commercial email addresses, while 71% used WI-FI or unsecured networks to access documents.
10% of companies had also reported computer, mobile devices or sensitive company documents as lost, stolen or left in a public place.
Said David Craig, president of Thomson Reuters Governance, Risk & Compliance: "Communications and information handling with board members represents a weak link in the chain of corporate information security. Boards of directors handle some of their companies' most critical and sensitive information, including business strategies, discussion of executive hiring and compensation, legal issues, internal investigations and more.
"While most corporations take extraordinary measures to protect information shared with executives and employees, board members - often being outside directors - operate largely outside of a corporation's secure computer networks and many of their strict internal security policies. The survey found that information given to the board is treated with inadequate levels of care and security with alarming frequency, placing information at risk of loss, theft and exposure.
"In addition, because of the increasingly global nature of boards," continued Craig, "members often have to travel considerable distances to attend board meetings and functions, providing numerous opportunities for papers, briefcases, laptops and mobile devices to be physically lost, stolen or exposed to hazards such as hackers and unsecured networks."