The leak of National Security Agency (NSA) data by computer contractor Edward Snowden ignited a global discussion about secrets of all kinds. For business owners, the increased odds of high tech theft are good reason to review protocols for keeping proprietary information secure.  

Our attorneys help business owners address and respond to employment and enterprise issues. From developing employer handbooks to legal action to protect trade secrets, our firm aids businesses interested in robust commercial protection. 

Consider these points when putting together data security protocols: 

  • Define data and trade secrets: Consider the types of information used and produced by your company. Before you develop a protection plan, categorize data types, and then look at the vulnerability of that information. To adequately protect your trade secrets, clearly define what they are in your confidentiality agreement and employee handbook.  This will help prevent an employee from arguing their ignorance that a particular item of data was, in fact, considered a trade secret.
  • Need to know: As you develop data security, ensure sensitive information is available only to employees on a need to know basis. Use systems that capture details on who is accessing information and flags large downloads.
  • Background: Good background checks are critical when hiring employees or contractors. Pay special attention to exit interviews and information audits when an employee leaves the company.
  • Handbooks: Your employee handbook must spell out clear expectations concerning data security and confidentiality. Ensure that any non-compete, non-solicitation and non-disclosure policies comport with local law. Keep in mind that any non-compete agreements in California are likely non-enforceable unless they are tied to the non-use of trade secrets or the sale of a business interest. Make sure employees understand your policies at the outset of hiring. Undertake training programs to keep employees fresh on security policies.
  • Clouds: To the loss of U.S. networking companies, some American businesses are migrating to clouds outside the United States to avoid the peering eye and ear of the NSA. If your data is part of any cloud, ensure you understand sharing and privacy arrangements. Consider options other than the cloud for highly sensitive information.
  • Social Media: Have up to date social media and technology use policies informing your employees of their rights and responsibilities regarding the use of social media. Make sure that your social media and technology use policies  incorporate your language concerning confidentiality and the non-disclosure of trade secrets.

If your data is vulnerable to hackers inside or outside of your company, your venture could be at risk.

Topics:  Background Checks, Cloud-Based Services, Cybersecurity, Data Protection, Edward Snowden, Employee Handbooks, NSA, Social Media Policy, Trade Secrets

Published In: General Business Updates, Intellectual Property Updates, Science, Computers & Technology Updates

DISCLAIMER: Because of the generality of this update, the information provided herein may not be applicable in all situations and should not be acted upon without specific legal advice based on particular situations.

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