Protecting Your Company’s Intellectual Property Through Cybersecurity

Brandon Sessions
Gray Analytics Welcomes Brandon Sessions as VP, Commercial Cybersecurity
May 27, 2021

Protecting Your Company’s Intellectual Property Through Cybersecurity

Protecting Your Intellectual Property

By: Jay Town

Intellectual property is often among an organization’s most valuable assets, yet it’s also vulnerable to threat and compromise. By recognizing the threats to your organization’s intellectual property and putting proactive cybersecurity measures in place, you can protect the critical data and knowledge that makes you and your business successful.  

What is Intellectual Property?

Intellectual property can take many forms, from general knowledge about a company’s operating processes to creative works that the company creates. Organizations may maintain a limited definition of intellectual property to include secret algorithms, formulas or proprietary software, but intellectual property is more than patents, trademarks and copyrights. We’ve outlined a few other examples of intellectual property below.   

–      Goodwill;

–      Customer lists;

–      Sales numbers;

–      Overhead numbers;

–      Business metrics;

–      Business strategies (1y, 2y, 5y);

–      Employee lists and their personally identifying information;

–      Forecasts;

–      Product information;

–      Bid information;

–      Proposal information;

It’s important to understand that every business and every client has intellectual property and trade secrets that are vital to its business operations and profitability. In order to protect your company’s most valuable assets, you must first pinpoint any critical data or assets and decide if the information can be shared outside of the organization. Consider why your competitors or an adversary may deem any of this information valuable to their efforts. Consider how they could use that information to their advantage, and therefore against you.

The FBI assesses that theft of trade secrets, especially from nations like China, cost American business over $500 billion annually, causing a great threat to our nation’s economic and national security.

The Chinese government’s current initiative, “Rob, Replicate, and Replace”  is as much a roadmap to theft as it is guidance to innovate. They plan to rob U.S. companies of their intellectual property, replicate the technology and replace the U.S. firms in the global marketplace. We must be aware of these pursuits and protect ourselves against nations who threaten to steal our firepower and brain power.

Ensure your cyber environment is secure to protect your company’s critical data.

Organizations need to implement best cybersecurity practices to protect their intellectual property from both internal and external threats. When you take steps to protect your intellectual property, you protect your employees, your company and your share of the market. 

Provide Information Technology (IT) training to all employees. 

Training for IT security is paramount in today’s world as the “Human Firewall” is likely the most important line of defense against future cyber incidents. Having a well-trained and aware organization provides a level of defense that cannot be present without adequate training. Constantly reminding employees what to look for, what not to do, and what to do both proactively and in the event of a cyber incident will significantly reduce the risk of cyber-related incidents to organizations. Assessing the readiness of human capital and providing improvement strategies is the single most important factor in reducing the occurrences of cyber incidents across an organization. 

Harden and patch your network and systems so that they’re up-to-date. 

Hardening and patching are critical steps in maintaining an up-to-date and secure operating environment. Patching involves keeping systems, firmware, and applications updated with the latest versions and vendor releases. Hardening limits points of entry into a system to mitigate potential risk through unauthorized access. Internal vulnerability scanning platforms help keep you up to date through scheduled network scans that alert users to vulnerabilities and necessary software updates. Patching machines, software, and applications is one of the most basic elements of good cyber hygiene and can deter many would-be cyber incidents when executed with discipline and regularity. Having no defined patching program introduces one of the greatest risks to any organization related to potential attacks on information technology resources.

Create an Acceptable Use Policy.

An Acceptable Use Policy (AUP) is a policy that stipulates constraints and practices that a user must agree to before being granted access to a corporate network. An AUP is essential to protect the security of the network as well as the security of the company in the event of employee wrongdoing. Companies must protect their assets by establishing and enforcing clear rules governing computer and network usage. AUP’s should include sections on acceptable use, unacceptable use, the security of software and hardware, confidentiality, privacy monitoring expectations, and enforcement of violations, among other things. These policies will ensure that only the employees who need critical company data have access to it.

Take the next step to building a more secure network.

In today’s interconnected information economy, the protection of customer information, employee assets, and intellectual property requires the proven expertise that Gray Analytics offers. From assessing the perimeter of your network to the health of your endpoints and all in-between, we analyze, recommend, and implement defense-in-depth strategies to ensure the right technology is effectively deployed against the threats.

Engaging with Gray Analytics’ team of experts to perform a comprehensive assessment of your operation can help you feel confident that risks to your business are clearly identified and effectively mitigated.