Investigation Hotline Discusses What to Do If Your Company’s Trade Secrets Are No Longer Secrets
The Information System Security Association defines “trade secrets” as a unique form of intellectual property (IP), particularly those with a commercial value. As a rule of thumb, these forms of IP and not easily ascertainable through honest means and are thus subject to confidence and secrecy.
Often, trade secrets include scientific and technical information (inventions, patents or unique methods for producing a product). Other qualifying pieces of IP may include drawings, product recipes, accounting data, cost of production reports, cash flow calculations, pricing mechanisms, data on suppliers and contractors, customer details, market analysis and more.
Together, these pieces of intellectual property play an integral role in the success or failure of your business. Frauds and leaks will likely have dire consequences for your company. If yours has been compromised in any way, your business and even your personal assets may be at risk and vulnerable.
Identifying a Breach
According to trusted Toronto-based PI and detective agency Investigation Hotline, there’s no one-size-fits-all route for identifying a breach or leak. Methodology for determining when a problem has occurred will vary drastically depending on your business, your industry and the nature of the information stolen.
For many companies, monitoring the activity of rivals and keeping an eye on competing businesses may help tip you off when a breach has occurred. If, for example, a rival company is able to quickly design and release a product that is similar to yours on a timeline that feels outlandish or unlikely, it’s possible that either an internal or external threat has been exploited in order to steal key information from your business. While not all copycat items indicate IP theft, those which are produced in a way that bears an uncanny resemblance to your own unique procedures or products will likely warrant investigation.
Similarly, you may want to stay alert to the attitudes and activities of your employees. In some cases, a company’s own staff will steal sensitive information in order to either use it for their own gain or sell it to a competitor at a high profit. This may also happen with ex-employees who may go on to be employed by industry competitors.
That said, these identification markers are far from absolute when it comes to determining whether your company’s most precious information has been compromised. Unfortunately, in many cases companies never find out about a data breach until it’s far too late. Others may never be fully aware at all, allowing the consequences to unfold with untold damage.
As a good rule of thumb, if you’re feeling suspicious at all about any aspect of your company’s intellectual security, that feeling should be taken seriously and investigated to the fullest extent. The consequences of leaked trade secrets will likely put your company’s success and reputation at risk.
Assessing the Damage
If your company has had valuable information leaked or stolen, your initial reaction may be to panic. While the concerns surrounding the consequences of a breach are undeniably valid, it’s also worth noting that even large companies like Apple have faced similar problems. Unfortunately, in this day and age as technology advances and markets become increasingly competitive, more businesses will fall victim to IP leaks and the exposure of trade secrets.
According to the security experts at Investigation Hotline, potential damages may include loss of customer loyalty, damage to the company reputation, decrease in stock values, theft of assets, theft of sensitive data and even failure of the company as a whole.
Unfortunately, when it comes to preventing leaks or pinpointing those who caused them, local law enforcement will likely be unable to help. To execute an extensive investigation of total damages, you may want to seek the help of trained and licensed professionals like those at Investigation Hotline. With their help, your company will be better able to assess and address threats in order to minimize current consequences and reduce the risk of future breaches.
Hiring a Private Investigator
If you own a business in Oakville, Mississauga, Toronto or Vaughn and you believe your company’s trade secrets have been exposed, it might be time to reach out to the trusted private investigators, detectives and security experts at Investigation Hotline.
While private investigators are most often associated with missing person’s cases or situations of romantic infidelity, other agencies (such as Toronto-based Investigation Hotline) specialize additionally in helping companies protect themselves from fraud, IP theft and other business-related risks. Other business-centered services offered by the agency include background checks for new employees, investment opportunity verification, merger risk assessments, fraud investigations, internet brand monitoring, employee compliance investigations and more.
When seeking out the help of a professional it’s essential to screen providers in order to ascertain what licenses they have to operate in the respective province or state. This can be done by checking with the governing authority in your area. You will also want to check to see if the organization is listed on the Better Business Bureau’s website and browse relevant reviews from trusted sources.
Preventing Future Leaks and Breaches
Hindsight is 2020. After doing what you can to mitigate the impacts of a past breach, it’s time to look forward and begin implementing better protective measures that will ensure the safety of your company’s confidential information in the future.
Threats to a company’s valuable intellectual property can be divided into two distinct categories: internal threats and external threats. To effectively safeguard your company, you’ll need to work diligently to understand the nuances of both.
In general, external threats refer to threats presented by parties outside your company who may have a vested interest in stealing your trade secrets. Most commonly, these are competitors operating within the same market who are striving to undermine your company and steal clients, sales or valuable intellectual assets which may give them an advantage.
In contrast, internal threats can be thought of as threats stemming from within the business, such as those presented by employees with high clearances or insecure corporate information systems.
If you’re located near Oakville, Mississauga or Vaughn and you believe your business may be at risk due to a security breach, Investigation Hotline is standing by to help you assess your current structures, mitigate potential past damages and move forward with a plan to prevent future breaches.
This article does not necessarily reflect the opinions of the editors or management of EconoTimes