Intellectual property must be identified, protected

August 6, 2012

The advent of cloud computing and other innovative technologies has increased the demand for the protection of intellectual property stored on the web. Unfortunately, many decision-makers have a hard time understanding what IP is, and how they can safeguard sensitive solutions from malicious outsiders intent on stealing and using a firm's mission-critical assets to their advantage.

A recent guide by InformationWeek Reports noted that businesses often underestimate the cybercriminal mindset and the risks involved with protecting IP. These misconceptions can be debilitating, as failing to implement robust data protection tools and strategies can lead to significant revenue losses, or worse.

Understanding IP and the risks involved
Intellectual property can take many forms, and is the resonating force that differentiates a company from its competitors. There are many threats to IP - including human error, negligent insiders and malicious outsiders - that are often underestimated within the enterprise, InformationWeek Reports said.

The first step in safeguarding sensitive solutions is to identify and classify which assets are sensitive. This means that engineers, marketers and other decision-makers need to establish a way to label mission-critical resources. One way to do this is by creating a policy that requires users to summarize a file's contents in its metadata, allowing network security professionals to easily recognize and protect applications and information that need extra attention, the news source said.

Security experts also need to prioritize resources that need additional security and lock them down before attending to less sensitive solutions, InformationWeek Reports noted.

Finally, decision-makers need to educate staff members on the importance of keeping intellectual property safe.

"If an employee doesn't understand what constitutes a trade secret and why it is so important to protect that data, that person is a [potential] threat to the company," the guide said. "If an employee doesn't bother to follow policy that calls for updating metadata when a document's status changes, that person is a [potential] threat to the company."

The importance of employee education was echoed in another report by Horst Insurance, which noted that data loss prevention strategies are heavily reliant on the activities performed by insiders. By teaching workers how to effectively manage and secure mission-critical assets, organizations of all sizes can better protect sensitive solutions from exposure, minimizing the chance of intellectual property theft.

-McAfee Cloud Security