June 1, 2015

Five Requirements for Securing and Protecting Your Intellectual Property

IP Protection

In this age of industrial espionage, insider theft and advanced cyber threats, it is becoming increasingly difficult to secure intellectual property (IP). The stakes are high. In fact, the IP Commission Report estimates annual losses of $300B attributed to IP theft in the United States alone. A Kroll Advisory Systems white paper describes how industrial espionage and insider attacks were responsible for the loss of trade secrets valued at $300M at Dow Chemical; $225M in illicit proceeds of a DuPont competitor that obtained DuPont’s Kevlar trade secrets; theft of Space Shuttle, jet and rocket design trade secrets from Rockwell and Boeing and technical IP theft from Motorola.

Many, if not most, large organizations are spread across multiple geographies. Their team members generally include not only internal staff but also contractors, service providers and business partners. They typically use an source code management system and content collaboration platform to create and store all their IP.

However, collaboration and security are often at odds with each other. Shared source code, designs, specifications, and digital assets can be easy targets for IP theft and leaks. To secure and protect your IP, your collaboration platform must address the following five requirements:

1. Flexible Authentication

Industry-standard authentication for LDAP and Active Directory is the minimum for any enterprise platform. More secure environments require custom authentication methods (e.g., two-factor authentication) to reduce the risk of stolen or compromised user credentials. When working with external contractors, service providers or business partners, it’s also important to be able to enforce the use of unique user credentials and to avoid using a single shared username or password.

2. Fine-Grained Access Control

Project collaboration with internal and external teams requires file-level access control. Most users need access to just the intellectual property they are working on. Being able to employ IP address-specific access and limit access to only authorized locations or users in different regions may be useful when dealing with partner companies or external service providers. For example, this would allow limiting access to external collaborators to a specific section of a repository or set of files that they need to perform their job, based on the network IP address of those external collaborators.

3. Strong Password Security

Setting strong password guidelines and enabling password-strengthening options, such as minimum length, maximum login attempts, password reset upon login and password expiration time frames, help reduce the risk of stolen or compromised user credentials. In addition, preventing the storage of passwords in configuration files, the Windows registry or other parts of the system used for authentication may further improve password security.

4. Detailed Audit Logs/Access Tracking

Keeping detailed audit logs is useful in determining who accessed which corporate assets when. Audit logs are valuable for monitoring access to corporate assets to determine potential data misuse, security breaches or data theft. Detailed audit logs are also necessary for forensic purposes, audits and regulatory compliance.

5. Automated Threat Detection

Even with all security measures in place, you have to assume that your systems have been breached and your IP is always at risk. Your last line of defense must include apparatus for monitoring all IP-related activity within your environment to detect suspicious events. Many existing SIEM security tools attempt to identify security threats using data from traditional security products (e.g., firewall, IDS or anti-malware) or even newer data sources (e.g., OS logs, LDAP/AD, badge data, DNS and/or email or web servers). These tools examine and process massive amounts of data and quickly identify anomalous behavior or outliers that could represent security threats. But this step is insufficient. To fully protect your valuable IP you must track activity and detect threats at the origin—within your collaboration environment itself.

A unified approach to securing and protecting your intellectual property addresses these challenges in a comprehensive manner, while informing your Security Operations Center and integrating with your existing security infrastructure. 

To learn more download our white paper:
A Unified Approach to Securing and Protecting IP.