• Richard Blech

Situational Awareness: Preventing Cyber IP Theft


How safe are your organization’s intellectual property assets?

IP, which include patents, copyrights, trademarks and trade secrets, represents a wide scope of valuable information. Trade secrets, in particular, are critical operational and business information that organizations use to gain an economic advantage over competitors. Whether it is a specialized chemical process, a software algorithm, research and development information, sales strategy, unpublished patent applications or some other type of IP, if it has to be stored or shared digitally, it has to be protected with the right processes and technology.


THE GREATEST CYBER RISKS CENTER ON IP THEFT

While the digital theft of IP between companies is not at all uncommon, the occurrence of IP cyberattacks becomes even more concerning when it is examined on a wider scale.

Cyber IP theft is a national security issue for many countries, including the United States. Most recently, Russia, China, North Korea and Iran have been the main culprits. For example, with the Solarwinds attack, the Russian state hackers not only gained access to US government data, but also private company IP and personnel information. Cyber gangs affiliated with the China State, which has been accused of repeatedly engaging in IP theft for years, were able to access emails via the Microsoft Exchange Server to gain sensitive IP. State-sponsored cyber criminals are also targeting the military as well as companies and research universities with direct ties to the military.

Once an organization’s IP is the hands of cyber criminals, there are multiple ways it can be used against the target company. It is used as leverage to compel organizations to pay ransom. The information can also be used to discover and exploit previously unknown flaws in the programming or design of a product. Another option, one that has even more long-term and severe implications for the target organization, cyber criminals can reverse engineer a product in order to be the first to release that product on the market and at a much lower price than what the target company had planned. This can be catastrophic for the target organization, resulting in cascading repercussions, such as a loss in valuation, the laying off of staff and bankruptcy.


WHY IS IP SO VULNERABLE TO CYBERATTACKS?

IP is a prime cyber target because it is an intangible asset that is a fixture in all industries, functioning at multiple levels of organizations of all sizes. It is being stored, modified and shared on networks that are no longer static or confined by traditional physical boundaries. One of the fallouts of the rapidly evolving technology that is digitally transforming industries is that it is rendering systems unsafe. Data is literally everywhere, and the insufficient safeguards many organizations still have in place still prioritizes network perimeter threats. This leaves organizations vulnerable to cyberattacks, particularly through software supply chains.

PROTECTING YOUR ORGANIZATION’S IP FROM CYBER THEFT

There is no one process, principle or solution that can ensure that IP is unequivocally secure. An effective cybersecurity strategy should include an IP component composed of policies and technology solutions that can be used to ensure the proprietary data properly protected. There should be no allowance for the assumption of safety. It should present a layered defense that can address both cyber weaknesses and insider threats by:

  • Encrypting data to lower the risk of loss. IP should be encrypted when it is shared externally and internally. Encryption is critical component of a cybersecurity because it helps ensures that data is securely stored and transmitted, and with the proper authentication measures, only those parties with authorization are able to access it. And the type of encryption matters. Organizations should use cryptography solutions that can generate quantum-safe encryption. Files of any type containing IP that are encrypted using the XSOC Cryptosystem—which is capable of generating modulating, variable key lengths at 512bit and above—will be useless to cyber criminals or foreign-state actors, who will be unable to access the information even with using a quantum computer.

  • Strictly regulating access to IP with solutions that allow implementation of hardline authentication measures. Review user access rights to determine where to possibly minimize the number of people with IP access. Employees should be granted access to the information that is only necessary for them to do their job. Any access that is granted should safeguarded by layers of authentication. For example, XSOC’s SOCKET can securely distribute symmetric encryption keys with multi-factor authentication data as part of the key material. This feature will provide priveledged access as well as strong encryption to better protect sensitive data. Controlled, priveledged access to information and strongly encrypting at the file level should be the standard for sensitive IP data.

  • Securing remote access to the network. Endpoint security has to be a priority not only for remote workers, but also business partners and any other parties that has authorization to access the organization’s network. This entails maintaining an inventory of all the hosts, devices (personal and company-issued) and applications connected to the network.

ROBUST IP PROTECTION REQUIRES XSOC SOLUTIONS

Intellectual property has always been a main driving force of an organization, but informational assets have never been more important as they are now in the digital age. Do you have the solutions that can help ensure that your IP is protected? To learn how XSOC CORP’s encryption and cryptography solutions can help supplement data protection across your organization, contact us today.