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Spearphishing attacks target boards

Maria Korolov | June 21, 2016
With great power comes great responsibility -- and also a great big target painted on your head.

"If you're talking about packets that are dropped at the firewall, their eyes are going to glaze over in seconds," he said. "When you're talking to the board about the importance of protecting information, you need to describe in business terms why it's important, such as the impact on our organization if a document about mergers and acquisitions were to get out."

On the back end, the bank is using IBM Lotus Quickr for sharing content, but is looking for a cloud-based replacement.

"Quickr is not in the cloud, and we don't want to maintain any on-premise solution," Linn said. "And it's essentially an end of life product, and they're not patching it."

But there are other potential benefits to moving to the cloud, as well.

Some vendors, for example, add another level of security to the documents, preventing recipients from forwarding them to unauthorized recipients, such as cybercriminals using clever social engineering tactics.

Diligent, for example, which counts 40 percent of the Fortune 1000 among its clients, allows companies to prevent recipients from forwarding sensitive documents, or even printing them.

"We would not be allowed to bring a tool like Diligent into Barclays unless the security was Fort Knox," said Ross Surace, senior technology partner for head office functions at Barclays Bank, in a statement.

The Diligent platform is primarily used for board member communications, said Diligent CEO Brian Stafford. The company says it has 100,000 users who are directors of corporate boards, half of them based in the U.S.

In addition to security, ease of use is a top priority, he added.

"The main challenge with implementing board-level security is getting board members to use it," he said.

The system works via a proprietary application that needs to be installed on an iPad, Windows tablet, or a personal computer, which provides secure access to the documents. Android tablets are currently not supported, but that will change by the end of this year.

Recipients who don't have the app installed, or need to access a document from a different device, can also get to it on the web.

The application also highlights the changes in documents that have been revised, said Stafford. Documents can be uploaded in any common format, including Excel and Word, and are converted to a proprietary version of PDF.

If the tablet or laptop is stolen, the documents can be wiped remotely. On a laptop, there is also a time-out period after which the application will request a login and password.

"Board members, who are 65 years old on average, are less tech savvy than some younger folks," he said. "Combine that with sophisticated phishing attacks and other hacks, and you've got a situation where more security is definitely required. Even the most tech savvy people are not immune to hacks, let alone someone using a free email provider from the 1990s."


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