PROTECTING TRADE SECRETS WITH EFFECTIVE INTERNAL POLICIES
R&C: In broad terms, how would you describe the extent of challenges associated with protecting and enforcing trade secrets? Is this a growing risk area for companies operating in today’s business world?
Speed: The challenges to business have increased significantly due to the digitalisation and relative accessibility of information that can amount to trade secrets, including not only business information but algorithms and computer source code. The internal threat from a company’s employees is greater because information is more transportable and can easily be transferred outside the business electronically through email and other communication systems, some of which cannot be easily tracked. Further, businesses are increasingly global so that it is difficult for companies to centrally monitor what is happening in other parts of their business. There are also growing external threats – the increase of cyber crime means that businesses which are rich in confidential information will need to invest heavily to ensure that they have state of the art protection against cyber attacks, as well as efficient policies for dealing with the aftermath of an attack.
Bello: The challenge of protecting company data is becoming increasingly difficult and is broadly commensurate with the rate of change in technology and associated business practices. Often we see that a company’s data is stored in the cloud, remains internet accessible and is managed by third-party vendors. The advantages of cloud storage are well documented and include ensuring employees can access information 24/7, reducing infrastructure costs and improving security through more advanced vendor infrastructure. However, protecting confidential information will continue to be a growing risk area for companies. Data that remains internet accessible and managed by third-party vendors can also introduce inherent risks. As data is internet accessible at all times, the surface area for adversaries to attack also becomes larger. The ramifications of a data breach are no longer just technical issues, but also have broader consequences including a reputational and financial impact. Breaches will continue to occur and therefore remain at the forefront of a company’s agenda.
Oct-Dec 2017 Issue
Bird & Bird
Blue Claw Ltd
Kirkland & Ellis LLP