Just about every company has sensitive information it needs to protect. Many times this comes in the form of intellectual property, such as product designs or blueprints, service methods and patents.

It feels like there’s a new high-profile breach showing up in the news every week these days. In such an environment, it’s more important than ever before for business owners to take the appropriate steps needed to protect their intellectual property.

Here are a few steps your business can take to keep its IP and trade secrets safe:

  • Make protection a priority: Despite the growing need for businesses to implement greater protections for their IP, there are relatively few companies that actually have meaningful data protection practices and policies in place. Companies must approach data protection as if it is a necessity for their business’s viability. If it is not prioritized, it likely will not get done, meaning your business will stand to sustain a significant amount of damage if a breach occurs.
  • Determine which IP is most valuable: Beyond prioritizing your IP in general, you should also prioritize specific IP by determining which is the most valuable. You should know exactly where your IP is stored and which need to have greater protections in place. The most valuable pieces of IP are the ones an attacker would be most likely to go after.
    Protect those assets: Once you have identified sensitive assets or data, label them appropriately to give a visual cue to other employees that the document must be handled with care. Implement technologies to ensure your IP stays protected. You can encrypt files that are stored online. If you have physical files that need to be stored, you can set access control points and limit who has clearance to access the file storage area.
  • Train your employees: Stronger employee awareness of the importance of information security will go a long way toward preventing breaches. All internal documents should have data protection, including employment agreements and manuals. All of your employees, from executives to interns, should be trained in your policies regarding how your company handles confidential data. Additional security awareness training at regular intervals can help. Even your vendors should be made subject to your data protection policies to ensure a breach doesn’t occur as a result of the carelessness or wrongdoing of a third party.
  • Invest in data protection: Cybercriminals are constantly getting more sophisticated, and will attack any business they believe to be vulnerable. There are third-party cybersecurity professionals that offer plenty of solutions for businesses of all sizes and with varying degrees of security needs. If you have a lot of sensitive data, it makes sense to invest in a data protection plan from cybersecurity experts.

For more information about protecting your business’s intellectual property, contact a corporate planning attorney in the U.S. Virgin Islands.

Steven K. Hardy is an attorney with the Corporate, Tax and Estate Planning Practice Group at Bolt Nagi PC, a full service business law firm assisting clients in the U.S. Virgin Islands.