Intellectual property, or IP, is a major driver of today’s economy. IP comes in the form of websites, blogs, software, and even logos. Since much of IP is locked up in the thoughts and ideas behind the website, software, or graphic, the final product is intangible. That means it isn’t possible to pick up IP and hold onto it with your hands. That intangibility and the difficulty in pinpointing an owner are two factors that make IP theft so easy. Anyone with a mind to steal IP can often take what they want and alter it to make it their own. Here are three ways to stop this type of theft.
Lock Everything Down
Image via Flickr by Yu. Samoilov
You might be thinking that locking files downmakes it harder for everyone involved with a task to do their work. Employees need to access their files constantly, and you might think that forcing employees to log in frequently makes it harder on them. However, login protocols like single sign-ons let users log in once and gain access to everything they need. Administrators can monitor access on the backend and make sure that employees or outside users aren’t accessing files where they shouldn’t be. With appropriate security in place, you’ll notice someone trying to access from the outside and block them long before they can create a serious security issue.
This goes double when using a cloud service. It’s important to understand how cloud security works, specially the shared responsibility model of cloud security. This means that the customer is as responsible for securing cloud usage as the cloud service provide. If you’re uploading intellectual property, ensure that you have the appropriate cloud security solution, like a cloud access security broker, to ensure that data is secured in transit and at rest in the public cloud.
Think Like a Thief
Thieves are constantly looking for ways to get into your databases and file storage. Ask yourself what you’d be looking for if you were a thief, and think like a hacker. What kind of software exploits could allow a hacker to get in? Are your employees’ passwords secure enough? These questions are just the tip of the iceberg. Talk to your information technology (IT) staff about applying their security protocols to your company’s intranet. Being proactive is the first line of defense against unwanted intrusions into your company’s IP.
Educate Your Employees
Just because you live in a digital era doesn’t mean everyone is computer literate. Some of your employees may log into their desktops every day without thinking beyond the computer that’s in front of them. However, they should follow the training you offer regarding which programs to use and which files they have permission to access. If you don’t educate employees on the dos and don’ts of file handling, they’re more likely to allow a breach or IP theft.
Have your IT department devise some common scenarios in which users make potentially damaging decisions, and then use those scenarios to train employees on appropriate security measures. When employees understand how they can make a mistake, they are far less likely to make that misstep again.
Protecting IP should be your company’s top priority, especially when a lot of research and development resources go into the effort. Letting a crucial file get out into the open can crash an entire project and even compromise your company’s integrity. Use these tips as part of a comprehensive strategy to keep IP safe and secure.