With the continual rise in globalization, the competition is getting more and more severe in every industry. Companies are so afraid of being left behind, that they are using every weapon at their disposal. One of the most effective ones is confidential information of competitors, their finances, customer data, and clients. This information can be used to manipulate markets by exploiting the weaker points of the competitors or even stealing their clients.
To some extent, this information can be gathered in a legal way, by monitoring market trends, customer feedbacks, and case studies. This is called competitive intelligence, and it can provide an upper hand in the fierce competition.
However, it’s not enough for some companies to have access to publicly available data. They desire an unfair advantage and use unethical tactics to get ahead in the market. In many cases, a ‘mole’ is planted in your company to supply inside information to the outside forces. The idea of a mole in disguised as an employee in your company might seem a bit radical. This phenomenon is called industrial espionage and it’s much more common than you might think.
Other than competitor information, companies also misuse customer’s private data. When an individual agrees to the terms and conditions while using a service online, they basically just gave the right to the company to use their private information however they seem fit.
The recent revelation of Facebook misusing user data left everyone shocked. Our sensitive personal information is saved on their databases the moment we agree to their terms and conditions. Furthermore, Facebook has been selling that data to other companies, including our contacts, call logs, facial recognition data and every event you have ever been to. This is without a doubt, a complete violation of our trust and privacy.
Many people called out Mark Zuckerberg on Twitter following the scandal. Tech Billionaire Elon Musk went further and deleted the Facebook pages of his companies ‘Tesla’ and ‘The Boring Company’ when a Twitter user challenged him to do so. A rumor also emerged that he’s going to make an offer to buy Facebook and delete it for good. That’s probably just another April fools joke though.
The fact that your employees might be leaking confidential data is much more complex of a problem than mere malware. Human errors cannot be exposed with an anti virus software.
You need to strengthen your data security protocols and follow the following practices to eliminate the threat of losing your confidential information:
1. Risk Assessment
The first step is to identify possible targets. You should be well aware of the data that your company possess and it’s worth. Identify threats and potential factors of attacks, which will help you identify vulnerabilities in your defenses.
2. Have a clear-cut security policy
Formalize and implement a clear-cut security policy. It should include certain rules to prevent data theft, such as restricting password sharing or using personal devices for work. Make sure everybody is aware of the policy and enforce it overall levels of management.
3. Termination Procedure
In most cases, misuse of data takes place in the very last days of work. Employees often have means and access to company data even after they have left the organization. Proper termination measures should be taken when an employee leaves the organization. This will prevent misuse of the confidential information and industrial espionage.
4. Background checks
Background checks can help you understand the potential threats associated with a person before hiring him/her. It can be very useful to conduct background checks on existing employees periodically who have high-level security clearance to confidential information. It can also help you prevent business espionage, by allowing you to identify moles in your organization.
5. Monitor employee activity
Monitoring employee activity might seem a bit over the top, but it’s really important if they have high-level access. It can be very easy to gather intelligence while performing normal tasks and using it for personal means. It can also prevent any attempt to steal or misuse data in the first place when they know that their actions are completely visible and transparent.
Employee monitoring is also a perfect way to prevent and detect industrial espionage.
6. Educate and train your employees
To prevent misuse of sensitive company information, you need to educate your employees about the consequences faced by the company. Make them aware of their significance in the security of the organization. Teach them about the simple measures they could follow in their daily work. They will be much more compliant to follow security policies if they understand their significance.
Encourage your employees to come forward, if they witness any kind of unusual behavior from their colleagues. Employees often fear persecution for voicing their concerns, and wouldn’t want to rat out their colleagues. Implement Your Safe Hub in your organization for reporting purposes, a special communication channel that protects such employees with the power of anonymity.
Signup for Your Safe Hub now and protect yourself and your valuable employees.