Intellectual capital is a very strategic asset and it is further becoming widely accepted as a major organisational 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. Cyber security 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 organisation. 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 organisations 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 organisations intellectual property, but the biggest and easiest is through phishing (Wharram, 2019).

Companies do not always appreciate the significant value that is embodied in intellectual property. Intellectual property fuels innovation, growth and differentiation in an organisation.

Steps an organisation 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 organisation 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.

Organisations 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 organisations and high-value targets for cyber-criminals of all stripes. Cyber security 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 cyber security 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.

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