Theft of company data and intellectual property by departing employees can cost companies both money and time. Our team offers four steps to help stop IP theft before it starts.
Company data and intellectual property (IP) theft can be a major problem for companies – and unfortunately, it’s a problem that many companies respond to only after the theft has happened. If former employees are suspected, internal investigations into their computer activities before their last day will reveal the extent of the data theft. Should litigation be necessary to remedy the theft, one of the first questions the court will ask helps define IP: “How sensitive is the information you’re arguing about?” A company involved in litigation is required to show that the data taken is information known only to the company and that the company would be at a disadvantage in the marketplace if the information got out.
While threats like ransomware and phishing tend to be a larger focus for companies, one of the greatest threats for IP theft is departing employees. According to the Verizon 2023 Data Breach Investigations report, external actors, including former employees, were responsible for 83% of data breaches between Nov. 1, 2021, and Oct. 31, 2022. When a market shift like the one currently happening leads to increased layoffs and downsizing across companies, the risk of company data and IP theft increases as well. But the threat of data theft is always present, which is why it’s important for companies to be proactive in protecting their data and IP. If a company does seek relief through litigation, the court will require it to demonstrate that it took appropriate steps to protect its data. These four steps can help companies understand how to help prevent company data and IP theft by departing employees, no matter the industry or size.