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Hot Topics in Technology

Corporate Social Media Comes of Age

Corporate Board Member Magazine Q4 2015

By Laura J. Finn

Social media has become an intrinsic part of the corporate communication structure, and companies that are not up to speed are in danger of being left behind.

Sure, you use a smartphone and an iPad, but when it comes to social media, do you ever feel a bit lost? Snapchats, tweets, and vines are here to stay and are even being used for corporate purposes, so figuring out how to strategically deploy these communication tools can give your organization a competitive edge.

The Board and Cybersecurity—Are You Guarding an Empty Vault?

Corporate Board Member Magazine Q4 2015

By Betsy Atkins

In the data security contest, you could be playing the wrong game.

Good news—as a member of a corporate board of directors, we in the boardroom have finally gotten the message on the severity of cybersecurity threats facing our companies. In my recent work with boards, I’ve seen how the lessons of massive hacks at Target, Sony, JPMorgan Chase, and other major firms have gained boardroom notice. And over the last couple of decades, I’ve seen firsthand—as a member of over 20 public company boards—the rapid evolution of the digital landscape and the opportunities it has offered. We’ve all pivoted to take advantage of these new technologies, but in the process, many advisers have lost sight of the potential risks incurred over time.

Cybersecurity and Corporate Liability: The Board's View

November 5, 2015

Veracode Survey Report

The continuous emergence of digital innovation, the ongoing revelations of high-profile data breaches, an increasing level of marketplace activism, and companies’ ever growing reliance on the digital space have all contributed significantly to bringing cybersecurity matters to the forefront of board and senior management discussions.

If the recommended methods to protect a business's most valuable assets - its brand integrity, intellectual property, and sensitive customer information - remain difficult to grasp and implement by many, there is much to be said about the critical issue of ensuing corporate liability in the event of a data breach should those methods fail.

How Leading Organizations Are Mitigating Third Party Cyber Risk

September 2, 2015

By Jacob Olcott, BitSight Technologies

It was a crime that sounds more like a Hollywood blockbuster.

Last month, US law enforcement officials, along with the Securities and Exchange Commission, announced the indictment of 35 individuals who hacked into earnings press statements prior to their release. Armed with this insider information, the traders made more than $100 million in profitable trades before the earnings became public.

The Board “Technology Committee”: 
Is it The Right Time?

May 5, 2015

By Michael W. Peregrine, McDermott Will & Emery LLP

A series of factors is prompting corporate boards across industry sectors to consider the establishment of a standing committee with responsibility for technology oversight.

Much of the interest in such a committee is grounded in the dramatically increased importance of technology to corporate affairs. In addition, formation of a full-fledged technology committee represents a logical next step from board oversight of cybersecurity matters. Creation of a “specialty” committee is also consistent with emerging board practices advocating for committees with more operationally relevant charters. It may also help drive the nominating process towards candidates with specialized expertise.

Considerations on the Use of Electronic Board Portals

February 19, 2015,

From Sullivan & Cromwell LLP

Board portals and other mechanisms for the electronic dissemination of information to directors of public companies, non-profits and other organizations are in widespread use. Many companies have found that these portals can offer significant benefits, including improved document security, speed and ease of distribution and, for many directors, improved efficiency and ease of access to board materials.

Boards and management should be aware, however, that there is increasing discussion, including among Delaware jurists and practitioners on both the plaintiff and defense sides, concerning possible negatives associated with board portals and other electronic communications, if not properly managed. There are two areas in particular that merit thoughtful attention.

The Simple Secret That’s Essential to Cybersecurity

February 2, 2015,

By Deb Ilic, BarkerGilmore

As soon as you start storing information electronically, the risk to your company increases exponentially. That’s why cybersecurity has become such a hot topic in recent years.

But sometimes, we risk overcomplicating it. Yes, there are a lot of unknowns, some of which are outside our control. Yet at its core is something simple that most companies are missing: information management.

Good management of digital records isn’t fundamentally different from managing records the old-fashioned way. It just becomes even more essential when you have so many personal records with the potential to be shared with millions in an instant.

SEC Says Social Media OK for Company Announcements if Investors Are Alerted

September 19, 2014

From Securities and Exchange Commission

The Securities and Exchange Commission today issued a report that makes clear that companies can use social media outlets like Facebook and Twitter to announce key information in compliance with Regulation Fair Disclosure (Regulation FD) so long as investors have been alerted about which social media will be used to disseminate such information.

The SEC’s report of investigation confirms that Regulation FD applies to social media and other emerging means of communication used by public companies the same way it applies to company websites. The SEC issued guidance in 2008 clarifying that websites can serve as an effective means for disseminating information to investors if they’ve been made aware that’s where to look for it. Today’s report clarifies that company communications made through social media channels could constitute selective disclosures and, therefore, require careful Regulation FD analysis.

Taking the Offense Against Cyber Risk

February 2, 2015,

From Corporate Boardmember
By Charles Keenan

Companies have stepped up efforts to address cyber risk in recent years, but the increasing speed and growing sophistication of attacks raises the question of how well management and boards can keep up.

Within corporate America, there’s a growing realization that large consumer databases and intellectual property are up for grabs if assets aren’t protected correctly. Nearly every organization is vulnerable, especially at a time when companies are using technology to adapt to changing markets and take advantage of new opportunities. Cincinnati Bell Inc., for example, spent $123 million in 2013 to expand fiber-based content and IT solutions in its customer base, which brought new growth—but also new risks.

A Directors and Officers ‘Cheat Sheet’ on D&O Cyber Insurance

March 2, 2015

Bowditch & Dewey, LLP The Wall Street Journal
Mary-Pat Cormier & Jennifer Garner

The Wall Street Journal covered a recent study finding 53% of 277 directors and officers said that “insufficient preparation to manage cyber threats,” was among top five concerns “‘significantly impact[ing]’ their organizations this year.” “[E]xecutives recognize the need for ‘cyber resiliency’, . . . it is not a matter of if a cyberrisk event might occur, but . . .when it will occur.”

Small wonder with these numbers:

  • a 78% increase in stolen or compromised data records from 2013 and 2014, over one billion data records affected in 2014;
  • 2014 saw an all-time high of 783 data breaches, a 27.5% jump over 2013. 47% of U.S. adults have been affected since 2014;
  • Cybercrime costs the global economy $575 billion and the U.S. economy is hardest hit at $100 billion annually;
  • Hacking is the primary cause of data breaches.

Managing Cyber Risk: Are Companies Safeguarding Their Assets?

August 4, 2014

from RSA

In the last few years, companies both in the United States and abroad have witnessed the steady growth of cyberattacks and corporate espionage. The financial losses and, worse, often irreparable reputational harm such incidents wreak have served to place a target squarely on the backs of board members to ensure they are properly overseeing cyber risk.

Five Must-Haves for Going Paperless

December 13, 2013

by Joe Ruck, BoardVantage

The advent of tablet devices including the iPad settled the debate about the readiness of technology for the boardroom. Readability and portability improvements addressed long-standing usability concerns about the devices, while advances in the software architecture let the portal map to the existing process necessary for going paperless.

Top 10 Topics for Directors in 2014

DECEMBER 13, 2013

from Akin Gump

U.S. public companies face a host of challenges as they enter 2014. Here is our list of hot topics for the boardroom in the coming year:

1. Oversee strategic planning amid continuing fiscal uncertainty and game-changing advances in information technology