As a business owner, you are worried about your intellectual property. You’re afraid that employees at your company may compromise the security of this information. You may believe that employees will switch to the competition, taking company secrets with them. You may also worry that internal employees will sell or distribute information outside of the company – whether they do so on purpose or accident.
There are many steps you can take to protect your company’s information. For instance, you may have your employees sign nondisclosure agreements or noncompete agreements. You may try to limit how many employees actually have access to specific industry secrets. But there’s still the potential for a leak, so who is it likely to come from?
Employees under stress
For one thing, an employee who is facing either financial or personal stress may be more likely to steal data. The reason for this is that data theft is often done by employees who want to sell that information. Someone who is facing overwhelming debt in their personal life, for example, may be far more likely to take this risk than an employee who is having no trouble making ends meet.
As you may suspect, users with high access levels are often the largest threat. They are considered privileged users, in that anyone at the company can’t just access the information that they can. It’s important to have people that you trust in these positions, but you also need to understand that their exclusive access to this information does make them legitimately more of a threat to your company’s security than a lower-level employee.
Finally, employees who get into a lot of conflicts or who are disgruntled with the company are more likely to steal trade secrets. For instance, perhaps you have an employee who is consistently written up for poor performance or who doesn’t get along with their coworkers. If they see the company as an opposing force or even an “enemy,” then they’re more likely to work against that company for their own gain. A disgruntled employee might sell company secrets out of spite.
No matter how it happens, losing control of these trade secrets can have a major financial impact on your business. Make sure you are well aware of all of the legal options at your disposal.