Computer specialist Edward Snowden was charged in June with espionage and theft of government property. Snowden revealed details he obtained of secret surveillance programs conducted by the American and British government while in the employ of Booz Allen Hamilton in Virginia.
While the United States is working to curtail continuing cyber-attacks by individuals and foreign interests, sensitive information and data is compromised daily in the United States, often by employees who may not understand the illegality of their actions.
Misappropriation or improper use of sensitive employer information is against California law.
Individuals who willfully or unwittingly download and use data or trade secrets from their former workplace put themselves, and their employers, at risk. Proactively protecting trade secrets is easier than instigating damage control through litigation.
If you do not already have a program to protect sensitive data and company trade secrets, consider the following steps:
Protective agreements. In addition to non-compete clauses, employee contracts should contain specific language concerning use, storage and protection of trade secrets and sensitive data. Rigorous enforcement of non-disclosure agreements can deter breaches in company security.
Training. What is considered sensitive information? How is it stored? From interview through employment, employees should be trained to understand and identify important company information that must be protected during the course of their employment and beyond. Specific expectations about handling of this information must be made clear verbally and in writing.
Compliance. Risk management processes should be in place to monitor employment agreements for departing employees and training and tracking methods for current employees.
Protecting trade secrets protects the future of your company.