Back to Blog

How to Protect Intellectual Property (IP) Data from Modern Bad Actors?

December 18, 2023
how to protect-intellectual property data from modern bad actors

Intellectual Property (IP) is an intangible or heritage asset that brings uniqueness and innovation to an enterprise. These intangible assets are legally protected and yield commercial value for an enterprise.

Intellectual Property adds not only commercial value to an enterprise but also aids in protecting its assets by providing due recognition. However, Intellectual Property contains sensitive information like trade secrets, including business strategies and formulas, patents showcasing technical aspects, copyrights, and trademarks, among others. When such sensitive IP data is acquired without any authorization through theft, the organization is put in a vulnerable position, which includes the destruction of its reputation and financial loss.

Moreover, highly regulated industries like pharmaceuticals, automobiles, and defense need to be extra cautious while dealing with their IP data, as it contains extremely vulnerable data. These sensitive details are crucial to an enterprise, and IP data protection from potential modern bad actors is undoubtedly the need of the hour.

Understanding the Potential Modern Bad Actors

Modern bad actors are numerous, and it is essential to understand them and implement foolproof IP data protection strategies in order to safeguard IP across the organization. The potential bad actors could be insiders or outsiders.

  • Insider Threats: These threats include employees or partners having access to and dealing with sensitive information and stealing, misusing, leaking, or dealing with the same negligently. Furthermore, former employees and temporary contractors who are given access mistakenly may also increase the IP data security threat.
  • Outsider Threats: Outsiders who tamper with sensitive information include hackers, cyberpunks, thrill seekers, and cyber criminals engaging in cyberattacks and phishing activities. Competitors and spies trying to copy and replicate sensitive information, they may mishandle the Intellectual Property of an organization. SQL injections, Unsecured Wifi, Cloud, IoT devices or VPN could be their soft entry points for getting into the data sphere.

These are only instances that showcase potential bad actors and their malicious activities whereby they abuse, misuse, and exploit sensitive intellectual property, causing IP data security pitfalls. An organization needs to understand these potential bad actors and their intentions to prevent them from exploiting and misusing sensitive intellectual property.

6 Effective Strategies to Ensure IP Data Security

  1. Educating Employees and Implementing Best IP Data Security Practices: Employees need to have a basic understanding of best security practices to avoid insider threats. Outside actors often apply social engineering tactic to crack employees’ passwords. Educating and creating awareness among employees regarding best practices to maintain data hygiene, various tactics bad actors use to steal sensitive data, and proper implementation of information governance policies will enhance the protection of intellectual property data. Furthermore, when employees are kept in check through monitoring and observation, unauthorized activities are prevented. Harmony between people, processes, and technologies is imperative for effective data governance. In my opinion, people is the lifeblood of this because processes will be followed and technologies will be used by humans (~ employees).
  2. Administering Proper User Access Controls: Data breaches can be prevented by implementing robust access control mechanism. Enterprise IT team should have a clear visibility over who access what and for what time. Multi-factor authentication, digital rights management, upgrading password protection, and updating security policies add value to the efforts. Zero-tolerance approach for POLP (Principle of least privilege) is imperative for safeguarding IP data.
  3. Encrypting Intellectual Property Data: In order to prevent the leakage of data, the organization must protect the IP Data through the process of encryption. Legible IP data is converted into a futile unreadable format and this refers to the process of encryption. Enforcing encryption through advanced cryptographic protocols for data in transit and data at rest is very essential in today’s digital world. Conduct a specialized audit of encryption standards all communication channels follow. Information Rights Management (IRM) should not be overlooked while redefining the IP data security practice. It is very prominent tool for preventing unauthorized use of IP documents. By leveraging IRM technology, you can limit access rights (view, edit, download, print, copy, etc.) of business document even after it leaves your company network.
  4. Third-Party or Outside Contractors Must Pass a Security Evaluation: When organizations carry out security assessments on third-party contractors and vendors, IP data protection is assured on a huge level. Another possible way to achieve the same is through crafting and implementing security benchmarks and standards for third-party contractors and vendors. You should park an SOP that stops vendors blindly forward an email chain that contains email addresses of your team members and other sensitive information of your company.
  5. Protecting IP Data through Data Loss Elimination Solutions: Implementing a loss of data elimination solution is an essential activity that needs to be carried out to protect IP data. To achieve this, the implementation of appropriate data segmentation and proper safeguard mechanisms to protect sensitive information is carried out. Further, if the organization makes use of an automated or rule-based backup, it will aid in the recovery of data and prevention of data loss that may occur due to unforeseen events and also ensure compliance with retention policies.
  6. Intellectual Property Preservation through Data Archival – Data breaches and attacks can be prevented by segregating and securing past data from current data. Data archival for an organization plays a crucial role in becoming compliant with prevalent data retention laws.

Conclusion

IP (Intellectual Property) is the lifeblood of today’s businesses. Fine-tune your people, processes, and technologies for implementing a zero-tolerance IP data security measures. Management should define the KPIs, and a regular assessment of the company’s state of IP (Intellectual Property) data protection needs to be conducted.

“Fill the gaps within and tap on emerging threats by keeping eyes and ears open- A mantra to succeed & grow.

Author

Kirit Palsana
Kirit Palsana, Director (India), with his two decades of leadership expertise, management skills, and in-depth knowledge of the continually evolving legal technology market and technology innovation, helps Knovos evolve. He defines the company's strategic direction, global portfolio offerings, and successful execution to achieve the company vision. Kirit brings strategic insights to drive the transformation for clients with technology innovation.