Protection of Trade Secrets in Cyberspace
In general, a trade secret is defined as any sort of confidential and proprietary information that a company seeks to protect from unauthorized access. A trade secret is vital to a business’s growth and development. Therefore, maintaining its secrecy is important. In the business world, organizations can use various agreements and policies to protect their trade secrets from leaking. There are methods to employ to protect trade secrets in any business level. However, a problem arises when businesses start conducting more transactions over cyberspace. Does your organization engage in e-commerce transactions? Does it use the Cloud to store trade secrets? If so, you should contact a law firm that can assess your legal rights.
In recent years, organizations have become more vulnerable due to the rapid transition of cyberspace for business transactions. In the pre-cyberspace years, it was easier to keep track of confidential documents and prevent them from falling into a competitor’s hands. With the transition to cyberspace, a business is subjecting itself to the dangers of unauthorized interception from internal and external sources.
The biggest danger facing a business conducting transactions over cyberspace is cybertheft. Cybertheft occurs when an individual obtains information, in this case trade secrets, by using the Internet. All of the information obtained is already in cyberspace and then accessed by an unauthorized user. This is the biggest danger because confidential information, or trade secrets, can be taken without properly alerting the business. Unless the business invests in an intrusion detection system, it will not find out about the unauthorized access until it is too late. In these situations, the business will not know of the breach until it is posted online. By the time it is posted online, it is too late and the trade secrets are revealed to the public. With the trade secrets openly available in cyberspace, any advantage the business would have over its competitors disappears.
With the problems of trade secrets in cyberspace, what can a business do to protect itself? The majority of the unauthorized accesses come from employees within the business or disgruntled former employees. In this situation, the business can implement the following internal policies: (1) network monitoring; (2) internal access policies; and (3) intrusion detection systems. It can also require new hires to sign agreements in order to prevent them from disclosing trade secrets. However, the biggest problem arises where trade secrets are accessed by an anonymous hacker. These are more difficult to catch due to the anonymity of the web and undetectability of the unauthorized access. As such, businesses should utilize tools such as firewalls, encryption, and multi-factor authentication to prevent unauthorized access. Furthermore, as stated above, it should implement an intrusion detection system to discover unauthorized access by third parties.
For more information about your rights, you should consult with an attorney. At our law firm, we assist clients regarding trade secret protection and online privacy matters.