Intellectual Property Leaks

Safeguard Your Business: Intellectual Property Leaks (Part 5 of 6)

Part 5 of our 6 part series where we explore some of the most common security risks and challenges executive leadership in organizations face and guidance on how to address them.

Adversarial government spying. Insider espionage. Corporate Boards authorizing money to be spent on spying programs of rival corporations. If you think no one would spy on you to get your company secrets, then you are in serious trouble. At the small-to-medium size business, the statement we often hear is “I don’t have anything anyone would want. It really doesn’t have any value”. At the Fortune 500 and above levels, it’s “we have policies and protocols in place”. Sometimes, nothing happens. Unfortunately, when it does, it’s already too late; and then we hear about a “problem” which may exist. Corporate reputations are damaged, sometimes beyond repair. How does it get to this state? 

While there are many ways intellectual property can be leaked out of a company, I would like to address four simple, yet deadly ways information is surreptitiously obtained.

  1.  Unauthorized access to sensitive information: This can happen when your staff members are recruited by foreign entities. These entities may exploit weaknesses to convince individuals with access to provide information to unauthorized recipients who do not have a need-to-know. Such outsiders could include adversarial governments, competitive corporations, or even employees with privileged access who misuse or share confidential information. This type of breach often involves a process known as elicitation, where employees are researched and targeted well in advance of any approach. Vulnerabilities such as having access to confidential information and having exploitable personal traits like gambling, alcohol abuse or sexual proclivity are sought after. Blackmail and extortion can be effective means of motivating someone to provide sensitive documents. It is essential for companies to provide training to their employees so they can recognize these techniques and approaches.

    Our comprehensive training programs empower your employees to recognize and defend against unauthorized access and manipulation, ensuring the confidentiality of your sensitive information. Ask for more information.

  2. Cyber-attacks: These attacks pose a significant risk to the security of your intellectual property. Hackers, armed with sophisticated techniques like phishing emails, malware, and social engineering, aim to gain unauthorized access to your valuable data. Advancements in technology have eliminated the need for physical infiltration, as these attacks can now be executed remotely, leaving the culprits anonymous. Neglecting to establish a robust cyber-crime program puts your entire company in jeopardy, not only by exposing corporate secrets but also by potentially tarnishing your brand and company reputation. To mitigate these risks, it is crucial to implement a comprehensive training program that ensures your staff is well-informed about the potential dangers lurking in cyberspace.

  3. Inadvertent mistakes:  An unintentional act by an employee could also lead to leaks of intellectual property. For example, an employee might mistakenly send important documents to the wrong recipient, leave confidential information unattended in a public place, or unintentionally disclose sensitive details during conversations. We often recommend certain safeguards be put into place, but often they are discounted until something happens. If you know you are having a sensitive conversation, you should think about possibly using some form of encrypted communication to have that conversation. A slight inconvenience can save you incalculable damage to your company. Once again, training, and better familiarization with established policies and protocols are critical.

  4. Intentional internal acts: It is crucial to acknowledge that intellectual property leaks can stem from individuals within an organization who consciously choose to steal or disclose proprietary information, either for personal gain or to inflict harm upon the company. These threats can originate from various sources, including disgruntled employees, contractors, or partners who exploit their positions of trust to compromise valuable intellectual property. Motives driving these actions may range from greed and dissatisfaction to conflicting loyalties or ideological beliefs. However, recognizing and mitigating these risks is paramount to safeguarding your assets and maintaining a robust security posture.

By understanding these points, individuals and organizations can take necessary steps to protect their intellectual property and prevent leaks from happening.

Rest assured, PCC Secure is well-versed in navigating such complex challenges. Our seasoned experts will guide you through the implementation of strong policies, protocols, and preventive measures to tackle insider threats effectively. We understand the importance of your peace of mind and are committed to being your trusted advisor in the world of security. Together, we will fortify your corporate defenses, ensuring the confidential nature of your intellectual property remains intact.

If you would like to discuss any of the pain points described above, we encourage you to call our office at 914-576-8706 to set up a free consultation session.

Is your business prepared to face today’s ever-evolving security risks?
Learn how to identify and overcome critical threats with our previous blog post: Safeguard Your Business: Identifying & Overcoming Critical Security Risks (Part 1 of 6).

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Sal Lifrieri - Security & Risk Advisor/Coach

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