An important aspect cybersecurity is protecting your intellectual property (IP). Every organization has their own “special recipe” and other trade secrets that they want to keep safe. Of course, there are intellectual property laws that can be invoked AFTER the fact. But, in the long run it is far less time and MORE cost effective to take the necessary steps to keep your IP safe.
Know What Needs to be Protected
There are many types of intellectual property. There are obvious, like product designs, recipes or formulas. Then there is the electronic data, the digital content that is unique and critical to your business. This must be documented before it can be adequately protected.
Implement “Least Privilege” Access
This involves setting up security policies to govern the level of access to and use of your IP. Least Privilege Access limits each user’s account permissions to the resources needed to do their jobs. Setting these limits not only protects your IP but also helps improve the overall cybersecurity of your organization.
Train ALL Employees
Whether intentional or not, human error poses one of the greatest risks to securing your data. Employees need to know What IP is, Why it’s important, When they are to have access, Where they are to store it and How they can help protect it.
This should also include a strong device policy that clearly defines if and how personal devices are to be used to access and/or download your company data.
Use Monitoring Software
You may already use network traffic monitoring as part of your cybersecurity program and there’s more that you can do. Consider deploying software to track things like file transfers, printing activity and emails. Too much surveillance can be intrusive so it’s important to consider the type of activity to track. Even more important is to communicate effectively with your staff so they understand what data is being collected.
Establish an Offboarding Plan
“Bring Your Own Device” (BYOD) can be a quick and convenient way for employees to handle data. But this convenience comes with some serious security concerns, particularly when an employee leaves the company. Policies need to be in place to handle offboarding employees, including the procedure for wiping confidential data from employee devices. Physical IP materials should also be turned in by the employee.
Privacy is definitely an issue when an employee uses a personal device. There are Mobile Data Management tools worth exploring that can help compartmentalize company data from personal data. The key is to have a policy in place at onboarding so there is no ambiguity on the other side.
Too many small business owners UNDERESTIMATE the need to invest in digital security solutions. Consider what is truly critical to your business and be sure that your security program employs proper protections. Want to know more? Talk to us about building a solid cybersecurity program to safeguard your business.
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