IP Protection: Are Your Distribution Channels Putting Your Trade Secrets At Risk?

IP Protection: Are Your Distribution Channels Putting Your Trade Secrets At Risk?

Sharing important information is no longer as simple as hitting “Send”

In the past we’ve highlighted the struggles of securely storing data and documents, but what about sharing them? Like most organisations, you likely use a combination of physical (courier) and digital (email, Dropbox, or even Slack) services to send and receive information on a daily basis.

Your reasons for doing so may seem sound at first. They’re familiar, straightforward, and easy to use. Especially when you need to get information out to internal staff, sales teams out on the road, or clients at home or abroad in a timely manner.

But the work you do to keep this information safe could be undone as soon as you hit “Share” or “Send”.

Why? Because today’s common distribution channels are flawed, easily accessed, and highly insecure.

Familiarity breeds complacency

Sending documents via email

Just because a distribution method is familiar, doesn’t mean it’s secure. While you may not have had any issues to-date, this false sense of security can see you playing a dangerous game of Russian roulette with your organisation’s sensitive data and information.

Once you send an email attachment or post a document, for example, you’re giving up control. The paper trail ends here. It goes cold.

You’re no longer able to track, trace, or monitor what happens to this information.

Did you know?

  • According to Accenture, there are more than 130 large-scale data breaches in the U.S. per year alone, and that’s growing by a staggering 27% per year (Source).
  • Google recently revealed that hackers steal over 250,000 sets of login information for services like Gmail each and every week (Source).
  • The average number of breached records per country hit 24,089 back in 2017, and that number has only increased since then (Source).

Out of sight, out of mind” may be a popular phrase, but it isn’t a responsible way to share your organisation’s most vital information. We also understand that it isn’t always a conscious decision. Urgent or last-minute situations can impair your better judgement, as you turn to fast yet insecure channels to get time-sensitive information to those that need it the most.

It’s fine, so long as the information gets to where it needs to go…right?

Your sensitive files, there for the whole world to see

Sensitive files

Let’s take email, for example. You’re in a hurry as you go to send an important report, financial documents, or trade secrets that are currently under NDA. You don’t notice the typo in the ‘To:’ field before you hit send, and now this information is sitting in the wrong inbox.

What recourse do you have?

Unfortunately, not much. That’s it. You’re stuck. The recipient doesn’t have authorised access, but they can still open, print, or share this file. Whether it’s an attachment or a link to a Dropbox or Drive folder. It isn’t invisible, and it isn’t protected. You have zero control over what happens to this information now. It could be misused, mishandled, or passed onto the press.

Did you know?

  • Accenture also found the most expensive component of any cyber attack is information loss, which accounts for 43% of the overall costs (Source).
  • When you consider the hit to a business’s reputation, diminished goodwill, customer turnover, and the cost of lost business following a data breach, reports pin the overall costs at $4.13 million per U.S. company (Source).

It’s also important to consider the growing, ever-present security threat among many common software packages, as well as an increasing number of cyber attacks on businesses and corporations as highlighted earlier. Insecure distribution channels are just that – insecure – which makes them an easy target for unauthorised third parties.

Robert Ackerman from TechCrunch says much the same thing. Back in January, he looked at the year ahead and came back with some sobering thoughts on the state of cyber security threats moving forward:

“No question, cyber breaches have been a gigantic thorn in the global economy for years. But expect them to be even more rampant in the new year as chronically improving malware will be deployed more aggressively on more fronts.”

You may think your organisation’s security is already top-notch, but there’s no accounting for the recipient’s approach to file security. Do they use the same, easily-guessed password for every email account, for example? There’s no guarantee they’re as careful as you are, which could see their Slack, email, or Dropbox accounts hacked and your files easily accessed.

Now more than ever, you need a way to distribute information that keeps it away from prying eyes.

Keeping information secret and safe should be simple

From the beginning, Stellar found that organisations were struggling to find a solution that allowed them to quickly and easily share important data and information while also keeping it secure and out of the hands of unauthorised third parties.

A central platform that has multi-level security protocols and encryption at its core is an important factor, but it’s industry-leading features like Ghost File software encryption technology that truly keeps sensitive information away from prying eyes. Literally.

Ghost File technology means files are invisible and unreadable by other software, so only those with authorised access to the program are able to see your documents, let alone open, read, or share them.

This kind of peace of mind is difficult to come by, but we’ve found that organisations employing a central business platform are able to share, send, and collaborate safe in the knowledge that everything is kept secure.

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Stellar Version 4 Now Available

Stellar Version 4 Now Available

Latest update brings new features, as well as a look at what’s next

In our continued efforts to provide complete control, visibility, and security for your organisation we’re happy to announce that Version 4 of Stellar is now available to all users. This release includes a number of exciting new features, including Sticky Notes, Two Factor Authentication, and new Reader Apps for both PC and Mac OS.

We recommend all those currently using Version 3 to update to this latest release. You can find links to Stellar 4.0 at the bottom of this page.


Stellar just got better. Here’s how:

  • Sticky Notes
    Our new ‘Sticky Note’ functionality headlines the Version 4 update, working like a digital version of a Yellow 3M Sticky Note. This new functionality allows the author to share content with the whole group, or stay private. When notes are shared publicly, anyone within the group can reply, allowing users to easily track conversations in a given thread.
  • Two Factor Authentication
    Stellar’s already industry-leading security has seen an improvement, with the addition of two factor authentication which further improves security and provides additional peace of mind for users.
  • Faster Synchronisation
    We’ve sped up the synchronisation process between the app and the cloud server, so all data such as annotations can be made, stored, and backed up that much more quickly.
  • Enhanced Agenda Making Processes
    You can now upload an entire folder into the collection, and Stellar will automatically generate a collection for you in seconds. This further reduces the administration time required to put together an agenda. You can even have video as part your Agenda pack!
  • Modern UI
    Stellar is now even easier to use, with an updated user interface that keeps up with the current trends.
  • Improved Annotation Features
    Annotations are now more responsive, and easier to use.
  • Improved Reporting
    Access and retrieve vital information with just a click of a button.
  • Electronic Voting
    Quickly and easily reach a consensus with Stellar’s new built-in electronic voting, which enables the group to vote on important issues within the document without relying on email or a show of hands.
  • New Apps For Both PC and Mac OS
    Stellar’s Reader App is now available across both PC and Mac OS, making it easier to keep up-to-date while you’re out and about or on the go with easy access via your laptop.
  • Beta App For Administration
    Administrative tasks no longer require a web browser. Instead, you can now carry out your administrative duties from within the app itself, which further enhances security and stops any unnecessary attacks through unknown web plugins.


What’s on the horizon?

Stellar is only going to continue to get better.  Give us a call or email: supports@stellarlibrary.com if you want to know more around the features we have on the horizon.

Better Board Meetings: Minutes, Memos & Agendas Shouldn’t Be This Difficult

Better Board Meetings: Minutes, Memos & Agendas Shouldn’t Be This Difficult

It’s hard to govern when meetings are this much of a mess

There’s a good chance your board still relies on outdated, paper-based processes. It’s not surprising. Many still do. Is it any wonder, then, that vital information could be falling through the cracks as documents run into the hundreds of pages?

There’s also the time and money spent preparing and then sorting through manually-taken notes, minutes, and memos to consider. Who’s to say that updates scribbled in the margins won’t be missed? Or that handwriting won’t be misread?

When your organisation is dealing with this much information, it’s a matter of ‘When’ not ‘If’.

Old document management methods are dragging down productivity

Piles of board documents

Boards deal with a large amount of information on a daily basis. Staying up-to-date and informed is crucial to effective governance. Only…it’s never that simple. Sifting through and preparing this information requires an excessive amount of time and resources pre-, during, and post-board meeting.

Secretaries spend a lot of time compiling relevant documents. Yet it all amounts to nothing when it’s placed in the hands of time-poor board members who are expected to parse this mass amount of information in a short time-period. Sometimes days, often hours.

Does this sound familiar?

  • PricewaterhouseCoopers found that professionals spend 5 – 15% of their time reading information, but as much as 50% looking for relevant, vital information (Source).
  • Datapro via Gartner Group reports that the average employee spends 400 hours a year searching for paper documents (Source).
  • Of the managers ATG & Rheinner Reuters surveyed, 49% feel they’re unable to deal with the sheer volume of information they receive (Source).

Things don’t get any better once the meeting is underway. Memos, minutes, and notes all pile up, often jotted down between the margins or on scraps of paper. The entire process from initial preparation to final decision requires maximum time investment for minimal results.

Good governance relies on informed decision making, but how can you expect to make those decisions when the relevant information, and board members, are quite literally on different pages? Workflow, productivity, and governance all take a hit when so much time is wasted sifting through documents.

Back in 2009, efficiency expert K.J. McCorry wrote on the inefficiencies of paper-based processes. What she had to say at the time is as relevant today as it was back then:

“Considerable time is still wasted and used inefficiently in managing paper documentation, especially when a high percentage of the data is created and generated electronically.”

Vital information is slipping through the cracks, and it could cost you

Reviewing board documents

A board’s ability to govern relies on instant access to the most up-to-date data. Yet current processes actively work against this goal, seeing information spread across multiple, lengthy documents. If a board member is running late, for example, they won’t have time to catch up. Especially if, as is often the case, any last minute changes to the agenda shift focus or topics. 

In the ensuing chaos, gaining – and retaining – visibility over relevant information is difficult, if not impossible. It’s no wonder information that could inform far-reaching business decisions is easily missed or skipped in a stack of paperwork, or that notes taken during a meeting are lost or misplaced. 

Did you know?

  • The Workflow Management Coalition found a 50% – 100% increase in productivity following the implementation of improvements to organisation processes (Source).
  • They also found a 30% productivity increase when implementing simple workflow enabled document management (Source).

Once the meeting is over, both tracking and actioning these changes can prove to be time-consuming. It also makes version tracking a nightmare. Who has the most up-to-date version of a given document? Whose notes need to be rolled into the final version, and which were ruled out?

Managing and processing this information is a sunk cost. It’s inefficient at best, and a recipe for lost, missed, or skipped information at worst. What happens in this scenario, where vital information is left sitting in documents for weeks if not months, if it’s ever noticed at all?

Your organisation could be heading for a metaphorical iceberg, and you wouldn’t even know it.

Achieving complete visibility is simple

Taking a step back, Stellar identified the key areas where current processes are failing. Physical documents are disparate, disconnected, and increasingly disorganised, which isn’t surprising when you consider these analog processes are trying to keep pace in an increasingly digital, data-filled world.

Nowadays, boards require a central digital hub that makes preparing relevant documents, simple. Features like search functionality and the ability to annotate in real-time, ensures vital information can be found, accessed, and highlighted so that agenda-setting, strategic information is no longer missed.

With a comprehensive, multifaceted platform for boards, you can quite literally bring everyone onto the same page, so board members can work on – and read from – the same document in real-time. This enables effective, secure collaboration while all changes are tracked and saved making the lives of staff and secretaries that much easier.

That’s less time spent managing paperwork, and more time making informed decisions.

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The Boardroom: Are Your Valuables Protected in the Digital Age?

The Boardroom: Are Your Valuables Protected in the Digital Age?

A false sense of security won’t keep your important documents safe

Are you still sending important information via email attachments? Perhaps you’re printing board books, meeting minutes or memos and storing them in locked filing cabinets? Or maybe you’re using digital solutions like Dropbox or Google Drive to collaborate, send, and share?

Storing your files behind lock and key or a password only you know feels secure. However in this connected, digital era many of these traditional methods for keeping your valuable information aren’t as secure as you like to think, and nowhere near as secure as you need them to be…


You’re putting your board documents at risk

Board documents are at risk

Yesterday’s traditional processes like printing and posting, as well as today’s common digital solutions like email are inherently insecure. Take paper, for example. There’s a certain comfort to being able to see, feel, and hold documents in your hand, but you lose visibility as soon as you put them down. Paper is familiar, but it’s also fallible.

On any given day, you could misplace an important report, leave sensitive financial records on the seat of a Taxi, or lose sight of board documents if you’re called away in a hurry. In fact, this happens far more than you might think.

For example…

  • Between 2011 and 2016, the UK’s National Health Service (NHS) misplaced over 500,000 pieces of patient data including blood tests and diagnosis because they were mistakenly stored in a warehouse instead of being delivered to their intended recipients (Source).
  • Across the ditch, and a number of confidential government documents were found in a secondhand shop in Canberra, Australia after a filing cabinet – and the documents within – were sold in an ex-government sale in 2018 (Source).
  • Here in New Zealand, the Canterbury District Health Board is just one example, publishing a report in 2018 that highlighted numerous cases where documents were mistakenly left in public spaces like cafes or taxis (Source).

Many of today’s digital alternatives aren’t much better. They usually feature low levels of security so they’re easier to use, which might be good for consumers, but not for your organisation’s ability to keep valuable data safe. A single breach via an unauthorised third party, a poor password, or a device left in a public space could see your data stolen, misused, or altered.

With valuable information spread across analog and digital channels, achieving complete visibility is increasingly difficult. Has a file or report been taken, moved, or tampered with? Is there a page missing from this 300+ page report? More importantly…would you even know?

These flawed systems don’t provide the visibility or control you require.


The legal and financial ramifications of inaction are costly

The legal ramifications of lost documents could be costly

Imagine a situation where you accidentally send a report to the wrong person, or leave files in an airport lounge as you hurry to make your connecting flight and the board meeting awaiting you on the other side. If your organisation’s data were to fall into the wrong hands, it could be costly.

Sensitive plans or strategic direction, for example, could fall into the hands of competitors or the press, costing you years of hard work and planning that had up until this point given you a strategic advantage. Your reputation may also suffer, with both clients and investors alike.

There’s also the greater financial and legal ramifications to consider. Claiming ignorance doesn’t absolve your organisation of its responsibility to keep information safe. The resulting fines, legal action, and real-world costs could have ongoing, long-lasting ramifications for the future of your organisation. As they already have for countless organisations across the world.

Did you know?

  • In 2018, a law barrister whose “…case papers were found in bin bags” was fined by the Bar Disciplinary Tribunal, while another faced a similar fate after “…a software update on her home computer placed hundred of unencrypted client documents online” (Source).
  • The UK’s Heathrow Airport was recently fined £120,000 when sensitive information stored on a USB device fell into the hands of the general public (Source).

The figures are staggering. Dan Swinhoe of CSO Online reported in October of 2018 that the biggest data breaches had cost eight big name organisations a total of nearly $280 million over the course of the year. And counting.

Dan highlights that:

“There could be even bigger fines on the horizon now that the European Union’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) has come into force. Data regulators in the EU are able to fine upwards of €20 million.”

The question is, can you really afford to sit by and do nothing?


Keeping your board documents safe should be simple

Early on, Stellar identified the need for a single, central platform that bridges the gap between what existing solutions offer, and what organisations actually require.

Efficient, industry-leading security is a must. This ensures that all information and files are kept safe, and only accessible by authorised personnel. More than that? It needs to be intuitive. If security comes at the cost of usability, secretaries, staff, and board members alike will flock back to the familiar, insecure methods that already see important documents left sitting on desks, in mail boxes, or email inboxes.

In our experience, boards operate at their best when they’re able to make informed decisions. With the support of a comprehensive solution that provides complete visibility, boards are able to do just that with data that’s accessible, up-to-date and, more importantly, secure.

Keep It Secret, Keep It Secure: How To Keep Documents Safe In The Digital Era

Keep It Secret, Keep It Secure: How To Keep Documents Safe In The Digital Era

Why your board’s outdated document management could be putting sensitive information at risk without you realising.

Not long ago, Credit Card details were the prime target of cyber attacks around the world.

Nowadays? Things are a little different. Data and sensitive documents such as medical records, account access details, and personal files are an increasingly sought after commodity. So much so that they’re now more valuable on the black market than Credit Cards.

If you don’t know why this should scare you, chances are you haven’t been paying attention.

Documents & Data – The new target in the digital age

Opportunists, insiders, or even state sponsored hackers have a new target in their sights: you.

Dive a little deeper, and it isn’t difficult to see why. Boards, trusts, and enterprises are the modern hub of sensitive data, insider secrets, and confidential information. Not to mention day-to-day documents like memos, minutes, and meeting agendas.

With a wealth of valuable information at your fingertips, your organisation – and its executives – are now a prime target for a cyber attack.

As we discussed recently, a cyber breach is a matter of “When”, rather than “If. Could your board confidently say at this moment in time that it’s doing everything it reasonably can to protect its members and the data, documents, and information they can access?

If you’re eager to make it easy for attackers, then by all means continue business as usual. But if you’re serious about governing to the best of your ability, and avoiding the associated legal and financial repercussions, it’s time to consider embracing a new approach that keeps sensitive documents, safe.

Keeping documents secure? It’s simple with these 5 sensible solutions

Piles of paperwork and documents

1. Say sayonara to paperwork, seriously

We’d bet that few – if any – of the members currently sitting around your boardroom table enjoy working with paper. It’s a pain to manage, difficult to sort and store, and impossible to search through at short notice.

It’s also costly, but not for the reasons you’re thinking. Paper, ink, toner, and other stationery cuts into your bottom line, yes, but the ease with which it’s misplaced, lost, or forgotten is the most concerning. It may be an accident, but “It was an accident” is hardly a steadfast defense in the face of disgruntled clients, governing bodies, or large scale fines.

It’s shocking how many organisations are still hesitant to embrace change, and would rather take the risk. Transitioning to a digital environment isn’t just safer and smarter, it’s also never been easier with Stellar Library’s Board Portal Software.

2. Stop sending emails, as of yesterday

A secure environment can still be undone with the slip of a finger. In this context, consider how many times you’ve accidentally sent an email to the wrong address. When you’re sharing sensitive financial, medical, or legal documents, you can’t get that message back.

Visibility over sensitive information is paramount to your board’s ability to govern. So why are you comfortable giving up the ability to track and control a document as soon as you hit “Send”?

Once that email leaves your Inbox, the audit trail runs dry. That’s despite the document’s journey potentially continuing for who knows how long, to who knows where, and into the hands of…just about anyone.

3. Keep it encrypted in the cloud, only

The physical process of storing documents is deeply flawed, but modern software does provide solutions to these persistent problems. So when you need to safely store documents, it might be time to consider the Cloud.

Not all cloud based solutions are created equal. Some offer limited functionality, while others require 24/7 online connectivity in order to access your documents. It’s a case of one step forward, two steps back.

This isn’t the case with specialised solutions like Stellar Library’s Board Portal. Stellar’s cloud-based software offers higher levels of encryption when compared to competitors, offline access, as well as a pricing structure that means you pay for what you need, and not what you don’t.

4. Leave personal devices at home, and your work at…work

Like most boards, yours is likely under immense pressure to fulfill its responsibilities, which can often lead to late nights at the office or, worse, work following you home. The moment sensitive documents pass through those doors, you’re knowingly putting them at risk.

Your work and home office environments are completely different. One is secure and monitored by your IT staff, while the other likely relies on insecure connections, outdated operating systems, and is at a greater risk of phishing, malware, and virus threats.

Don’t think that dragging your personal devices into the boardroom is any better, either. You wouldn’t take a sick person into a hospital, so why are you taking unsecured devices into an otherwise secure environment?

If you need the ability to work on sensitive files and board documents while out of the office, at least use a secure solution like Stellar Library. With Stellar, there’s no need to place a file on a thumb drive that could fall into the wrong hands, or email files to yourself that could be stolen if your account is compromised.

Instead? Files are securely stored and accessed via the cloud, never downloaded. And with the single-button ability to remotely revoke access? You’ll never need to worry about misplacing your device ever again.

5. Audit document and account access, regularly

Speaking of access, do you know who has access to which files in your organisation at this exact moment in time? While this might not seem like a big deal, think about the number of clients who’ve come and gone, business partners who’ve parted ways, or staff who’ve walked out the door.

Do they still have access to the files that were given to or shared with them over the years?

More than that, would you know?

The last thing any organisation wants to consider is a cyber attack coming from the inside, but disgruntled employees with access to the metaphorical keys to the kingdom can cause serious damage.

With existing solutions, gaining this level of clarity as to who has access to which document, folder, or drive can be overwhelmingly complex. Not so with Stellar Library, which provides complete control over who can access files, down to minute details including the ability to edit or print.

Keeping documents safe is simpler with Stellar Library

What we’ve covered above is simply the tip of the iceberg when it comes to ways in which your organisation can keep its documents secure in the face of past, present, and potential future threats.

Trouble is, your boardroom is busy enough getting on with the act of governing to worry about every last detail, and that’s where Stellar Library’s Board Management Software comes in. Stellar Library uniquely addresses each and every, providing secure access to documents anytime, anywhere, on any device.

It’s the kind of control a modern board like yours needs to stay safe from the increasing number of cyber security threats while achieving better board meetings.

It’s a smart solution, delivered simply.

Stellar is a secure business platform for mobile devices such as tablets, laptops and smartphones. Our intuitive, cloud-based software gives you complete control and visibility of all the confidential, operational and sensitive data for your organisation and simplifies workflow, irrespective of industry type.

If you've got any questions or would like an online demonstration
Call: 0800 882 221 or +64 7 928 2233
Email: sales@stellarlibrary.com

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