Seclored: The Data Security News Blog

IP Theft: “A decades-long assault”

Category: Data Security

On August 15, The New York Times published a strong worded op-ed titled, China’s Intellectual Property Theft Must Stop by Dennis C. Blair and Keith Alexander. Their names may ring a bell, but if you are not familiar, Blair was the former director of national intelligence and a former commander in chief of the United States Pacific Command, and Alexander was the former commander of the United States Cyber Command and a former director of the National Security Agency. To say the least, they know a thing or two about cyber security.

A 600-billion-dollar problem

While the issue of intellectual property (IP) theft is not particularly new – it is timely, and a major problem for U.S. businesses. The article was written the week that President Trump, “instructed the office of the United States Trade Representative to consider an investigation into China’s sustained and widespread attacks on America’s intellectual property.”

The article goes on to talk about how “this investigation will provide the evidence for holding China accountable for a decades-long assault on the intellectual property of the United States and its allies.” And, how “Chinese companies, with the encouragement of official Chinese policy and often the active participation of government personnel, have been pillaging the intellectual property of American companies. All together, intellectual-property theft costs America up to $600 billion a year, the greatest transfer of wealth in history. China accounts for most of that loss.”

While this article is a stark reminder about one origin of IP theft, it is also a reminder of the importance of protecting your data no matter where it travels.

An industry-wide problem

For many, IP is the lifeblood of a company, which also means it can be the most vulnerable. IP covers everything from proprietary recipes to the blueprints of a yet to be released products. As Blair and Alexander point out, “Chinese companies have stolen trade secrets from virtually every sector of the American economy: automobiles, auto tires, aviation, chemicals, consumer electronics, electronic trading, industrial software, biotech and pharmaceuticals. Last year, U.S. Steel accused Chinese hackers of stealing trade secrets related to the production of lightweight steel, then turning them over to Chinese steel makers.”

This is also not just an issue for global corporations. A recent article in Above the Law, talks about the importance of IP to startups. It says, “you would be surprised how often most startups generally misjudge the nature of their IP, or otherwise get so focused on bringing their products or services to market that they lose sight of foundational IP.”

Protecting IP with a data-centric approach

 If you have read some of our previous blog posts, you know that at Seclore we talk about collaboration being a critical part of doing business, but something that also leaves data exposed and vulnerable. Taking a data-centric approach means that IP is always secure, whether it is being sent internally or to external agencies. This level of protection is made possible by adding granular usage permissions (i.e., view, edit, print, copy, run macros, screen capture) to a file, which can be updated at any time and from any location. Plus, all usage information is tracked for real-time audit trails to meet compliance standards and regulations.

It is important to remember that the op-ed mentioned above is a focused look at systematic IP theft from one part of the world, but this is not an isolated issue. IP theft is a widespread problem – and something every company should take seriously.

Amit Photo

Amit Kharat is the VP Sales engineering at Seclore. A technology and product expert who loves solving complex problems around data security for his customers. Served across different roles, ranging from Sales engineering, Customer engagement and Product Management over the last 15+ years with expertise in providing subject matter expertise, thought leadership, solution consulting, competitive market assessment and client engagement services.

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