As information in the enterprise world has become increasingly digital in the 21st century, this has in turn created a substantial rise in corporate and economic espionage. According to estimates released by the FBI in 2015, the incidence of data theft for the purpose of illegally appropriating trade secrets has risen by more than 53 percent on an annual basis.
Criminal cases involving the theft of business information tend to only make the news if major companies are involved. Such has been the case with Lockheed Martin and DuPont in recent years; however, small and medium-sized businesses are often targeted in data heists.
Here are four ways you can protect your intellectual property from being stolen by your competitors:
1 – Non-Compete and Non-Disclosure Agreements
Business data is often given to competitors by former employees and associates when there is nothing to stop them from doing so. Non-compete and non-disclosure agreements can discourage former employees from abusing company secrets to enrich themselves or other firms. To make these agreements more effective, some companies take the time to explain possible consequences of violating the pertinent clauses.
2 – Security Awareness Training
One of the best investments you can make in your company involves training your staff to protect business information. Security awareness training sessions can make business owners feel more secure as their employees learn to spot common attack vectors used by hackers who practice social engineering. Businesses that handle with very sensitive information stand to benefit the most from these training sessions, which also teach staff members on how to flush out insiders. Once everyone has been trained, all you have to do is refer to this security awareness training guide whenever issues arise to keep reminding employees of the sensitive issues that your business may be facing.
3 – Hardware Firewalls
If you own a business that cannot secure data in the cloud due to compliance regulations, you will need to increase the security of your office computing systems as if you were a cloud services provider. One of the best solutions in this regard is to install a modern hardware firewall that can repeal brute force attacks and suspicious port scanners before they reach your network.
4 – Hire the Right Staff
Having an information security specialist on staff can help you sleep better at night. You don’t have to hire a dedicated technician. If you already have someone who is in charge of security matters, you can arrange for additional InfoSec training to help them to be able to be capable of more technical duties. You can also instruct your human resources manager to look for resumes that indicate prior InfoSec experience.
It is in your best interest to keep your business data secure at all times. The four steps listed herein will help you get started, but the rest is up to you. Information security is an evolving field that you will need to revisit a few times a year.