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Intellectual property (IP) plays a vital role in our increasingly knowledge based economy.
From tech startups and online platforms, to pharmaceuticals, biotech and chemicals, whether it’s a unique algorithm, a summary of advanced medical research, or a unique process, IP is at the heart of how knowledge based companies earn their income.
As a result cyber espionage represents a huge potential threat – The threat of IP and other sensitive data being compromised and falling into the wrong hands is acute for any business.
While copyright and rule of law help protect IP in the West, other areas of the world are less scrupulous when it comes to a company’s secrets and knowledge.
China has been in the news consistently in the past few years over claims of extensive cyber-espionage on US corporations.
The US Justice Department has claimed China’s corporate espionage is happening on such a vast scale that it comprises a national emergency.
With almost all sectors of the US economy being targeted, China’s cyber-espionage is alleged to be costing American companies hundreds of billions of dollars and over two million jobs.
So, How Are Company Secrets And Ip Most Likely To Be Compromised?
The main threat to corporate secrets and IP actually comes from within. Time and time again, insider thefts are identified as the root cause for compromised data. Disgruntled employees can be a liability, and even more nefarious are infiltrations by individuals who were specifically placed in the businesses in order to steal data for a third party.
Remote attacks represent one of the most serious risks. New and more sophisticated forms of hostile and intrusive malware threaten computers. In addition to the rising threat of ransomware, a new category of malware aimed specifically at industrial espionage has appeared on the global scene, and will likely become more prevalent in the years to come.
Terry Pratchet once famously quipped that “Artifical Intelligence will always be confounded by human stupidity” – Never underestimate the potential damage of human error. In many instances sensitive corporate data is accidentally shared via emails or uploads. It can also be physically lost or publicly exposed.
How To Protect Yourself Against These Threats
Look at who has access to your critical information. In many cases important and sensitive data is unnecessarily available to ALL the employees on your company network. Maintaining an access control system that provides access on a need-to-know basis, is a much healthier and more secure solution.
Hive Off Your Data
An extension of the previous concept – Create a separate network for sensitive information and monitor who works on or has access to that network.
The rise of Bring-Your-Own-Device (BYOD) as a de-facto practice in many workplaces leads to a wide variety of opportunities for misfortune. If you do choose to allow this (unrecommended), be sure to have proper security and management software installed on your employee’s devices.
Look Out For Odd Behavior
Keep an eye on unexpected behavior on your devices, such as sending odd emails, and visiting odd sites. You should also monitor employees behaving oddly, for example: unaccounted for absences and accessing sensitive data they don’t need.
Monitor Your Equipment And Employees
Of course, it’s impossible to be everywhere at once. A great new way to monitor espionage threats is by using employee monitoring software.
Software such as KnowIT will allow you to monitor your employees, Smartphones and computers, whether they’re Windows, OS, iOS or Android based.
Preemption Is Always Preferable To Containment
The software allows you to see application and website usage, track absences and be alerted to any suspicious communications by keywords, giving you immediate warning even when someone has merely mentioned a sensitive issue, not to mention accessed, copied, altered or sent important files.