Intellectually, we all know that email security is a problem. After all, earlier this year, it was reported that information from 550 million Yahoo accounts was stolen in 2014. Yet the vast majority of companies continue to trust email and use it as a primary tool in contract negotiation.
What gets emailed? Strategies, business plans, financial information and comments to specific contractual clauses. When there’s an email security breach, this confidential data can become public information.
Here are five very real dangers of using email in the contracting process.
1. Data Breaches Can and Do Compromise Email Accounts
In 2014, Sony Pictures Entertainment’s computer system was hacked, compromising emails, personal information, salary information and entire unreleased movies. The hacking exposed the entire inner workings of the company, including its internal communications.
When data is hacked on this scale, the company is placed at a competitive disadvantage for future contracts Hackers and scam artists don’t care that everyone signed an NDA.
2. Your Own Employees are a Security Risk
Perhaps you’ve heard about the controversy surrounding Hillary Clinton’s private email server? For corporations, the lesson behind the news stories is that executives and employees don’t always follow the company’s security protocols. You may have the most secure email server in the world, but as soon as someone uses a hotel computer and a personal email account for company business, your email isn’t so secure anymore.
When they’re on the road or at home, employees can find it quicker and easier to use something other than the company email. Personal mobile devices can be lost and hacked.
You may have the most secure email server in the world, but as soon as someone uses a hotel computer and a personal email account for company business, your email isn’t so secure anymore.
3. The People on the Other Side of Negotiations are a Bigger Security Risk
If you’re negotiating with, say, the U.S. Department of Defense, you can be pretty sure they’ve got some security protections built into their emails. But what if you’re negotiating a contract with a small-batch coffee roaster in Idaho? Or a manufacturer in China?
You may be a big company with top-notch email security features, but many of your contracts may involve smaller businesses that don’t have the capital for sophisticated email security, or that rely on internet email services like Gmail or yahoo mail. Yahoo was already hacked on a spectacular scale, and there’s no reason to believe it can’t happen again.
4. It’s Easy to Screw Up with Word’s Track Changes Feature
Most companies use Word for contract drafting, and they then circulate drafts and collect comments through Word’s Track Changes feature. The thing about Track Changes is that it’s not always easy to tell when it’s on. If an employee neglects to accept or reject all proposed changes and delete all comments, you can disclose confidential information to the opposing party.
This can reveal all sorts of confidential data, from business and negotiating strategy to financial information. In some cases, it can disclose confidential attorney-client.
5. Human Error Is Always a Problem
Who hasn’t hit “send” on an email and then realized the email went to the wrong person? Or that you hit “reply all” when you meant to reply only to the sender?
But what happens when “reply all” sends a confidential internal negotiation document to the other party to a proposed contract? Or when a clerical employee inadvertently sends out the wrong version of a contract for signature? In our fast-paced, multitasking world, these things can and do happen, and they can compromise confidential information, increase the cost of contracting, and place you at a business disadvantage.
At Parley Pro, we have an alternative to chaotic and insecure email negotiations. Our contract negotiation software provides greater security, more transparency and better control over your contract negotiations than you’ll ever get through email.
Let us show you how it works. Contact us to set up a demo.