Corporate espionage rates were constantly growing, during last few years. Number of corporate secret cases in US courts was doubled around three times, since the eighties, and it is projected to double one more time until 2017. With that in mind it sounds almost amazing how Coca Cola is successfully keeping their formula, which is also the most valued corporate secret in the world. This formula is not protected with patents, unlike the name Coca Cola and a nickname ‘Coke’, which are both registered trade-marks.
Successful trade secret protection is another important business segment entrepreneurs need to master. Trade secrets are protected by state law, but to get this kind of legal protection this information needs to satisfy four key rules:
- It needs to be a real secret– information that entrepreneur is trying to protect as a trade secret shouldn’t be known to the public;
- Use of warning labels– all documents, both digital and on paper that are containing trade secrets need to be labeled with warning signs (like ‘classified information’ labels);
- Restricted access– access to this information should be restricted to general public, as well as the biggest part of company’s employees;
- Confidential agreements– if trade secret is shared with third-party individuals, those people should sign confidentiality agreement;
Trade secrets in digital age
Digital age represents a great challenge for all trade secret keepers. Coca Cola still successfully keeps its formula, but at the same time companies like US Steel and Westinghouse Electric, became victims of massive data breaches. These incidents revealed some of their trade secrets to hackers, and later public hype caused massive impact on company’s reputation. Experts say that this is not the worst case scenario in case of data breaches and trade secret theft. Financial impact that follows these incidents can be devastating, and depending on the particular secret that was stolen it can cause from $160 billion to $480 billion worth of damage.
Other risks of unsecured corporate networks
Many companies that sell their goods or services online, collect their customers’ personal and credit card data. In the same way medical companies are storing (and guarding) thousands of medical records that contain information which can be used for wide variety of fraudulent activities. If hackers get their hands on customers’ credit card data they can use it for future credit card frauds, and medical data can be used for various types of blackmailing. Recently we were also witnesses of huge data breach from company called Ashley Madison, Canada based online dating service that targets individuals that are married or in a relationship. This data breach caused huge turbulence among members of this network, which is slowly falling to obscurity as a result of this vicious hack.
Security measures that should be implemented
With large growth of cyber crime and corporate espionage rates, companies need to have an adequate response to these trends and implement security measures that will keep hackers away from their data. These are some of the measures that turn out to be very effective in most companies:
- Data encryption– sensitive data needs to be encrypted. This can be done with various encryption apps, or if companies are planning to store this data in the cloud they can choose cloud providers who offer encryption features. Most cloud services comes with great encryption features, while some of the cloud storage providers such as pCloud even challenge hackers to try to break their encryption.
- Security training- all company staff needs to pass security training that will explain them how to use their gadgets wisely and how to react in emergency situations.
- Security policies- companies need to have elaborate security policies that should cover the use of different gadgets and computers, the ways sensitive information gets transferred and contain precise orders that should be followed in case of data breach..
- Regular patches and updates– companies should regularly patch up their system and update their security software.
There’s never been so much crime in corporate world, which is why we are all obliged to secure our data and closely follow digital security trends. In digital world prevention is always better than cure, since it saves company funds and relieves its employees from pressure.
[su_box title=”About Nate Vickery” style=”noise” box_color=”#336588″]Nate Vickery is business consultant and editor-in-chief at Bizzmarkblog. He is mostly engaged in finding best IT solutions for small business. Lately he have been occupied with researching cyber security and big data trends. You can follow Nate on Twitter at @NateMVickery.[/su_box]