As we’ve written here, intellectual property (IP) theft and content leaks are the new frontiers of cybercrime. But if IP theft sounds like something that happens to someone else, not you, think again.
Employees leaking confidential information can be done maliciously, accidentally or entirely unknowingly.
Malicious leaks – like those reported by Apple in 2018 (29 people leaked information from the company in 2017, 12 of whom were arrested, according to Bloomberg) are usually driven by financial motivation, or a deliberate attempt to damage the company.
But accidental leaks are a different matter. They might be the result of social engineering, accidentally forwarding information to the wrong person, or simply losing track of where the information ends up.
Here are five ways to minimise the risk of employees accidentally leaking information:
- Ensure employees understand the value of your IP. This might sound obvious, but part of your staff training should include the importance of IP to the company, so that your team have a better awareness of what they should and shouldn’t share, and take more care when they’re sending information both inside and outside the organisation.
- Be clear about what employees can and can’t discuss outside of work. It’s one thing to message a friend about the tough week you’ve had, but another to share details of the new technology you’ve been working on.
- Introduce a system to monitor and track and take control of all your company confidential communications, so you can you can see exactly where your information ends up, who’s accessed it and what they’ve done with it.
- Don’t allow employees to send confidential information outside of your corporate security. You can do this by using our ‘push’ technology, which pushes, rather than sends, information. That means it never leaves its source, and you can restrict access to only those authorised to see it, as well as stop the ability to forward it, download or screenshot the content. This stops it ending up in the wrong hands, or being passed to outside parties.
- Safeguard against what might seem like innocent conversations about your IP on social media. Warn employees that their posts could be seen by journalists, competitors, or those with a vested interest in knowing more about your IP.
We know that the weakest link in the security chain is a company’s employees. Creating better awareness of the dangers of sharing sensitive information, together with the technology to restrict access, could help you avoid a costly IP breach.