Theft of Intellectual Property is on the Rise
According to a recent survey, about 56% of employees admit to stealing Intellectual Property (IP) from their company when they are fired.
Their reasons might range anywhere from wanting to besmirch their former employer to wanting to branch out on their own and start a business. Whatever the reason, this is a high trend and shows no sign of slowing down, especially with technology becoming more prevalent in our lives. We are finding more and more of these cases coming across our desks, and we have found some measures that can help to limit loss when there is a disgruntled employee.
The first thing to do when the employee leaves the building is to contact your IT administrator and have them suspend or otherwise terminate the employee’s credentials to access their computer systems including remote access. This prevents the employee from coming into your office later that night with a flash drive or accessing computers from their home, and making off with any manner of documents. Second would be to contact a digital forensics firm to have the machine imaged for future examination. There may have been emails sent, documents written, or other confidential material that may have been taken by the employee that the employer could be unaware of for days, weeks or months after the employee has left.
In larger companies, there can be software systems put in place known as Data Loss Prevention (DLP). What a DLP system does is send an alert to IT saying that a particular file on someone’s computer is being in appropriately access or copied. While some of these alerts will be false alarms, some will be real IP theft that can be used against the employee should there ever be a court case filed. The question “What were you doing with this file?” has a remarkable effect on the defendant during a deposition.
Another important thing that companies forget is the physical aspect of intellectual property. Companies should collect and change keys (or changing the locks entirely), change alarm codes and ask about personal devices that might contain company data. Employers should include statement signed by the ex-employee that they will return all company data intact, and that keeping any of these files could constitute a criminal act.
Remember, never assume that your data is safe when an employee leaves. Always check and double check.
For over 30 years, Scott Greene has been helping companies meet the challenges of the swiftly evolving computer technology industry.
Directly from high school, Scott went to work for IBM. Scott studied Systems Engineering at the University of Arizona. He has since earned certifications in many products and programming languages.
The Evidence Solutions team analyzes data from Computers, Cell Phones, Black Boxes, Dispatch Systems, Medical Records, Email systems and more. Scott then explains the digital evidence in plain English.
Scott’s extensive knowledge draws clients to him from all over the United States as well as Internationally for consulting, Forensics and expert witness services. His extensive and diverse experience allows him to be an expert in many facets of digital and electronic evidence. Scott, a sought after speaker and educator, travels throughout the country sharing his knowledge and presenting to local, regional, national and International organizations.
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Disclaimer: While every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy of this publication, it is not intended to provide legal advice as individual situations will differ and should be discussed with an expert and/or lawyer.For specific technical or legal advice on the information provided and related topics, please contact the author.