Importance of cyber security in protecting intellectual capital and securing an organisations future

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Importance of cyber security in protecting intellectual capital and securing an organisations future

Intellectual capital is a very strategic asset and it is further becoming widely accepted as a major organizational strategic asset capable of generating sustainable advantage and superior financial performance. Currently, the significance of intellectual capital is indubitable, however, while focusing on exploiting and maximising the value of knowledge, research has been absent into knowledge protection. Cybersecurity management measures the aim to manage the loss of information and its ensuing cost by protecting its confidentiality, integrity and availability or accessibility.

Companies do not always appreciate the significant value that is embodied in intellectual property. Intellectual property fuels innovation, growth and differentiation in an organization. The loss of intellectual property is one of the hidden or less visible costs of an attack, together with lost contract revenue, potential devaluation of your organizations trade name, and damaged or lost customer relationships. Intellectual property covers a wide variety of corporate capital, including customer information, business plans, trade secrets, creative work products and proprietary software or hardware (Fancher, 2016).

The likelihood of intellectual property theft is on the rise, weighing heavily on corporate decision makers. Protecting intellectual property involves implementing a cyber-insurance policy, technological defences and employee training. Different attack vectors are used to steal an organizations intellectual property, but the biggest and easiest is through phishing (Wharram, 2019).

Steps an organization can take to protect itself include:

  1. Educating employees about security, with placing importance on social engineering attacks as people are the weakest link.
  2. Ensuring that antivirus is updated on all the systems used in your organization and run a monthly report to identify systems that are not acquiescent with regards to the antivirus.
  3. Understanding what intellectual property, you got. This can be attained by carrying out a data classification exercise, which allows you to assess the sensitivity of the data you hold and what data could be valuable to your competitors or anyone else.
  4. Ensuring that your systems are patched regularly and not just with Microsoft related patches but with other application patches as well since most attackers are using the application vulnerabilities.
  5. Reducing the number of people who can access your trade secrets and increasing security to access the trade secrets.
  6. Ensuring that anyone handling sensitive or proprietary data should be trained to identify both outsider and insider threats, including resentful workers, careless contractors and negligent suppliers.
  7. Trust but Verify.

Organizations should be vigilant in developing a holistic approach to protecting their intellectual property.  Such a strategy should include employee training designed to create a culture committed to safeguarding company intellectual property and other confidential property (Krauss, 2018).

In conclusion, intellectual property and other proprietary information are the life-blood of most organizations and high-value targets for cybercriminals of all stripes. Cybersecurity is unendingly transforming the world, business, and legal practice. It is crucial that intellectual property and indeed all practitioners develop competency on the topic or, at minimum, the ability to spot cybersecurity issues and a network of knowledgeable colleagues with whom to consult.

Get in touch, if you would like to review your policies on safeguarding intellectual property and want to connect with a subject matter expert.