While items of national security rarely feature in the average small- to medium-sized company’s operational literature, essential product information and market strategies can be of huge value to competitors if lost or stolen.
Industrial espionage in motion
In an age when most of us are now well-used to shredding our personal financial paperwork at home, an understanding of the potential for identity theft to be carried out in the real world should not be hard to grasp. Take this to the commercial sector and industrial espionage could manifest itself by actions as simple as one company accessing another’s intranet if it is not properly secured from external network connections.
Employees traveling and accessing the company network (however small) can easily find themselves acting as unwitting catalysts to a security compromise; unsecured use of the Internet from communal Wi-Fi hot spots to careless use of passwords when overlooked in public places can leave the door ajar for hackers, data crackers and even just mischievous rouge surfers out to mess around.
Once “on the inside”, an industrial spy can target a company’s future product or services roadmap, crucial pricing data, training materials and core information relating to the Intellectual Property (IP) which the business may hinge its trading position upon.
How do leaks happen?
Access to the kind of IP-related information we are talking about here can come from an external hacker via an Internet connection. Equally, just like our friends at MI6, a data-rich laptop can be left on a train, in a taxi or even in an after work bar. Or, as AVG has highlighted many times in the past such as in this InfoGraphic, insider threats might be right under your nose, so a properly managed IT network with locked down security barriers and strict access policy controls is essential for safe business operations.
So some of these risks may result from workers who are traveling — and, equally, some of the risks here may result from traveling workers i.e. temporary staff given access to your IT system for even just a short period of time.
AVG recommends building a robust data protection layer around your whole business. But more than this, the “perimeter” of this protection should extend to the physical computers you use and to the way various staff are allowed to use them, especially when they are on the road.
This may not be the start of the second Cold War, but it is the full force of the data protection war and a modern business in this electronically connected world economy must face these facts. Failure to do so could be disastrous, so please protect your business now.