There are some common sense ways for small businesses to minimize the threat of employee theft of trade secrets. This is the second in a three-part series on the subject. The first post, on using HR policies to protect trade secrets can be found here. Today’s post deals with the employer’s use and implementation of technology to protect its data, trade secrets or other intellectual property.
Most businesses use some form of basic technology-based security solutions using their existing systems and software. For instance, if the trade secret is a computer-stored source code, a basic protection is to regulate access to it by requiring and assigning unique user names and passwords to each employee. A company may also choose to maintain electronic access records of computer logs to be able to isolate and determine who accesses their network and when. Most businesses also use some type of firewall to protect the business’ network or even maintain their trade secrets on separate servers.
Businesses should also consider providing technology solutions to employees so that they do not use unauthorized procedures to assist them in completing their work. For instance, when file sharing by e-mail becomes difficult due to data size restrictions, employees may use a third-party service such as dropbox to share restricted company data with an intended or authorized recipient. While the employee may have no bad intention, the sharing of the data in this way may permit unauthorized access, storage and sharing of the company’s trade secrets. For this reason, businesses should proactively implement regulated and authorized technology solutions to solve common problems encountered by employees who access protected data.