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Beware: Sensitive Data is a Frequent Target

7.3.09

Where is your company's sensitive information at this very moment? You may say that it is in the company's files locked in someone's office or in a certain directory on the company's server. I hope you're right. But according to a recent survey, information you believe is confidential may also be in a number of other places, including your competitors' offices. A Ponemon Institute report suggests that employers may be losing much more sensitive and confidential information than they imagine. The report describes the problem, but what can an employer do? As an initial matter, you should identify for yourself what information is most essential to the way you do business. Or, in other words, "What information would I most not want my competitors to know about?"

From a legal perspective there are two essential sources of protection of trade secrets and confidential information: the Uniform Trade Secrets Act and common-law principles of theft and breaches of loyalty. Since the law is generally designed to help those who help themselves, what should an employer do to help itself in this area? Here are a number of areas recommended to start from to institute a credible information protection strategy:

These steps won't guarantee that you will never lose important confidential information to departing employees, but consideration of the problem and implementation of controls will certainly make it much harder for a departing employee to do what so many other departing employees are doing in this struggling economy.


This article appeared in the July 3, 2009 issue of the Daily Journal of Commerce.

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