Your intellectual property is an asset of your business, and as such, it’s important to diligently protect your “IP” from theft or misuse. We often recommend that business owners, inventors, and entrepreneurs make “policing” their intellectual property a regular activity of their business, just as they would with routine accounting or administrative tasks.
Part of keeping a watchful eye on your intellectual property, however, is understanding some of the lesser-known ways that data or documents could be exposed and ultimately stolen. Here are some key places to pay attention to:
- Cloud storage and file-sharing services: If your employees are accessing your data from the cloud and doing so in remote locations, perhaps from a home computer or mobile device, there is a possibility that your documents or data could be downloaded or viewed by unauthorized parties. Before you utilize such services, make sure that you have ways to secure your data and trace any access to files should something get stolen.
- Scanners, copiers, and printers: These devices store documents as they are processed, generally on a remote system. Get in the habit of regularly removing any stored documents from these systems and put procedures in place to prevent unauthorized access. Likewise, it’s easy for papers with sensitive information to get left in a printer or copier. Flip open the copy machine from time to time to make sure that it’s empty and ask your employees to do the same.
- Personal email use: Most of us have sent company documents to our personal email accounts for the convenience of being able to access them from our home or mobile device. However, the convenience of doing this often does not outweigh the risk. If an employee is sending emails to a personal account with an unsecured password and that account is hacked, it’s your sensitive data that’s on the line. Consider creating a policy prohibiting company files from being shared to personal devices or private email accounts. If your employees need to access files and data from home, it is likely safer to provide remote access to an in-office computer, to use a VPN or to use a secure cloud storage system.
If you’re not very tech-savvy and unsure how to implement some of these suggested measures that may be necessary to protect your IP from hacking or unauthorized access, consider hiring an IT expert to help you.
On the legal side, if you need additional guidance in order to create a plan to keep your intellectual property and trade secrets safe, please contact our law firm at 888-666-0062.
DISCLAIMER: The information contained in this article is for informational purposes only and is not legal advice or a substitute for obtaining legal advice from an attorney.