For many kinds of business, it’s enormously important that trade secrets remain – well, a secret. Such companies are vulnerable to malicious hackers, attempting to gain entry into the business from the outside. But in other cases, the fault actually lies within the organization. Disgruntled employees might deliberately leak sensitive information – or they might do so unwittingly, thanks to a lack of training and diligence.
Whatever the nature of the vulnerability, it’s vital that business takes steps to address it. Let’s take a look at just what these steps might look like.
The Importance of NDAs
A non-disclosure agreement is a legal document wherein the signing party agrees not to disclose sensitive information to third parties. They’re standard fare in a whole range of industries, as they give legal teeth to any prohibition against over-sharing. If you’re remotely concerned about your trade secrets, then NDAs represent a simple and powerful first line of defense.
Get Legal Advice
Having expert legal counsel in place ahead of time will serve you well when you have to deal with a crisis – and it might help you to avert that crisis in the first place.
Controlling Both Physical and Electronic Access
An audit of your information can determine where all of your most sensitive information is kept, both physically and electronically. Armed with this information, you can then identify potential weak spots, and take steps to address them. You might implement two-factor authentication for those wishing to access certain sensitive information, for example.
Updating Hardware and Software
Out-of-date technology can potentially offer attackers a route to sensitive information. All computers should be equipped with antiviruses and VPNs so that information can be sent securely. This applies especially if your employees are working remotely. All devices should be password-protected, and fitted with tracking devices so that they can be recovered in the event of a theft.
Be Cautious Internationally
When you’re sending information across national boundaries, then you might find that you’re especially vulnerable to a data breach. If you are conducting business on foreign soil, and collaborating with foreign organizations, then be mindful of what information you’re divulging.
Limit Public Access
The fewer people have access to your internal systems, the better. Make sure that any freelancers are thoroughly vetted, and require that visitors sign in.
Employee and Vendor Training
There’s no point in establishing a long list of rules and procedures if your staff has a poor understanding of those rules. For this reason, it’s worth setting aside time for formal training so that everyone understands what the risks are. This will provide an opportunity for uncertainty to be cleared up, and for questions related to trading, secrets to be answered.
Creating a Dedicated Team
Putting together a dedicated team to deal with protecting your trade secrets might well be worthwhile, especially if your company is of a kind that lives and dies depending on its ability to protect its secrets.