Should your executive assistant be a security expert?

Last updated: 19 November 2019

Consider a typical organization and its employees and management. Who would you say hold the keys to the company’s lifeblood and information? The CEO? How about the CFO, with all the financial knowledge and power? Or is it the IT manager who could theoretically have access to every employee’s computer and mobile device?

We believe the executive assistant is among those with the keys, given their access to highly confidential, sensitive and powerful information via their work for the CxOs and C-Suite. Given the majority of CxOs have a personal or executive assistant to whom they give access to their data, their passwords and devices without a second thought, isn’t that something to stop and think about? (Not every management level executive will necessarily have a PA of course, but small businesses should also take note of the need for security at all levels of the business.)

Now, we aren’t saying your executive assistant is a threat as they are already entrusted with highly valuable information on a daily basis, whether listening in on meetings, potentially managing the CxO’s personal calendar as well as his or her professional calendar. However, while we may give the C-Suite additional security measures – for instance strong authentication to access email or sensitive documents, email encryption for confidential areas such as HR and legal and even digital signatures to be able to sign official documents when on the move – shouldn’t we also consider giving executive assistants the same level of protection?

At the other end of the spectrum, many CxOs may also rely on their personal assistant to help provide and implement the necessary security measures required to access emails on the go, view confidential documents on a personal tablet or preferred mobile device and so on. Especially as high-flying executives spend a lot of time on the road, they rely on their executive assistant to provide them with the relevant information in a secure yet convenient fashion. Maybe the average executive assistant is actually a security expert in disguise?

Whether IT and digital security is added to the executive assistant’s job description or not, it’s vital to ensure they are considered as important as the CxO in terms of being adequately protected with appropriate security measures for multiple devices, email access and identity access. For the organizations that fail to consider the value of the executive assistant from a security perspective, they may well find themselves open to security breaches. Don’t just protect the C-Suite; consider those who add value at all levels.