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Securing Data in a Work From Home World

In the days of old tangible assets held most of a company’s value. Today a majority of a company’s value is found in its intellectual property (IP). If we look at the S&P 500 companies, 84 percent of their total value consisted of intellectual property and just 16 percent consisted of tangible assets in 2018.

Did you know that you can get a trade secret theft insurance policy and/or a patent liability policy?

So today’s Work from Home (WFH) has created some inherent risks beyond anything we have experienced before. Now we have millions of people taking company data to places they previously haven’t. Company assets are being accessed remotely, and sometimes not in the most secure ways.

Thankfully, there are steps to safeguarding your company’s information. Let us help. The time is now to minimize this security risk – which could be the next epidemic. The forward-thinking IT professional can bring these solutions to light, add value to senior leadership, and ultimately save your company.

Losing your corporate intellectual property customer data, trade secrets etc can mean the end of your company. Your company has probably spent significant dollars on legal protections such as patents and trademarks before they release a product to market, but these are defensive measures. What we are talking about is taking the offensive against these threats.

How To Protect Intellectual Property

The first thing you must do is identify the location of data. Where are the major data stores? Is it all in your server room? In the cloud? On mobile devices and laptops? For more organizations it’s everywhere.

The next step is classifying the data. This is by far the most difficult step, and we align ourselves with how Microsoft classifies data:

  • Non-business: data that is not business related and doesn’t belong to your organization
  • Public: data designed for public consumption.
  • General: Business data not meant for consumption outside your organization
  • Confidential: data that would be considered sensitive and potentially damaging if released
  • Highly Confidential: highly sensitive data that would absolutely cause harm if released

Next you must identify and resolve old data. Do you still need those old documents? Verify that no one is using it before removing. Your organization will need to develop rules for saving, deleting, and protecting data.

Now you do the important work of protecting your data. You’ll add your protections based on the classification of that data. The highest priority for most organizations is going to be customer and personal information. For most smaller companies, locating customer data and protecting it will provide the biggest returns in light of the risk it poses. Building trust with your customers is absolutely critical as anyone watching data breeches in the news knows.

Protecting your Trade Secrets

When it comes to risk, the protection of trade secrets is absolutely critical to business. Your IT staff will need to work with groups of people that handle trade secrets. These are engineers, developers, manufacturing staff, etc. Microsoft products such as Key Vault are excellent solutions for protecting your trade secrets.

Getting Started On Your Security Journey

If you’re at the point where strategy around security needs to be put in place, we recommend following these 3 steps:

  1. Governance, risk, and compliance – have your human resources and legal departments help you and your team define what information needs protection. Customer data being the most important.
  2. Education – make sure you use language that ‘s easy for others to understand. Avoid jargon. Train your people on the correct tools for each scenario such as Azure Information Protection for Office 365.
  3. Choose your tools wisely – Microsoft offers tons of them meant specifically for protecting your company’s most valuable assets. Enable things like Windows Information Protection.

As you can see, security works best when it resembles an onion. Highly layered systems add additional protection, but only if you put the human intelligence work in first. By utilizing the best industry security tools, educating users, you greatly reduce your exposure to risk.

If this seems daunting and beyond your team’s experience, Magenium would love to help sure up your defenses – contact us below to get started.

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