Often, when companies consider implementing monitoring initiatives, they strive to protect their customers’ data privacy, which has quickly emerged as a bottom-line issue for virtually every business.
However, monitoring initiatives do much more than just protect peoples’ personal information from malicious or accidental misuse. They also protect companies’ most important and foundational structure – their intellectual property.
That was underscored this week when the U.S. Department of Justice announced a criminal indictment against a former Alphabet engineer accused of stealing company secrets from its conspicuous self-driving car initiative.
The defendant, Anthony Levandowski, is accused of stealing thousands of files over several months before he left the company. The files were transferred to a personal laptop, which he took with him when he left Alphabet to start his own self-driving vehicle project.
In total, Mr. Levandowski will face 33 charges, including theft and attempted theft of trade secrets.
Unfortunately, for Alphabet and other companies whose employees walk out the door with intellectual property, no legal maneuvers can put the proverbial genie back in the bottle.
What’s more, the Alphabet heist is notable for its scope and prominence, but this behavior is surprisingly normal. It’s estimated that 70% of employees take company data before leaving a company, making it one of the most pronounced ways that company data is compromised.
In other words, when it comes to protecting intellectual property, the only way to prevent data theft and transmission is to identify the behavior before the data leaves your system.
For that, comprehensive employee monitoring can identify bad actors, including privileged, high-level employees who are accessing or removing company data. Bad actors never emerge out of nowhere, and they frequently exhibit signs of malfeasance, including:
- accessing an unusual amount of type of company information
- retrieving company data at odd hours
- saving or downloading information to external storage devices
- communicating on company time with company rivals or competitors
Employee monitoring initiatives can detect these behaviors, and other signals that could indicate data misuse, before there is a major incident.
Today’s software is more capable than ever before, providing companies with a powerful tool to safeguard their intellectual property while still being mindful of other ancillary issues like employee privacy and data integrity.
When protecting intellectual property, there are no second chances, and having the right software in place can make all the difference.