World Intellectual Property Day (26 April) raises awareness on how intellectual property (IP) impacts daily life. But while much attention is placed around the legal aspects, companies and individuals need to consider the security ramifications as well.
“Intellectual property runs the gamut of trade secrets, trademarks, copyrights, and patents. Protecting these in an ultra-competitive digital world should be an imperative irrespective of if you are a multinational organisation or a start-up just getting off the ground,” says Riaan Badenhorst, General Manager of Kaspersky Lab Africa.
And while this is not limited to any specific industry sector, the importance of manufacturing in Africa puts the pressure on businesses to ensure their secrets are safe from malicious users.
“Research shows that 21% of manufacturers globally have suffered a loss of IP to security breaches. Malware was the most common cause of data loss, but theft of mobile devices and software vulnerabilities that were exploited contributed to this as well,” says Bethwel Opil, Enterprise Sales Manager of Kaspersky Lab Africa in Kenya.
Even though cyber security solutions are not typically the first thing that is thought of when it comes to IP protection, the increasingly connected business landscape sees it become a necessity.
“Cyber security is no longer just about anti-virus and firewalls. Instead, it encompasses an eco-system that must protect all entry points into an organisation, safeguarding the most fundamental thing needed for success – data,” says Badenhorst.
And part of that data is IP that provides a business with its competitive advantage. In fact, data has been cited as one of the most valuable resources today as it enables a company to drive growth and differentiate itself in ways previously unimagined.
“To protect data (and IP) requires cyber security solutions that factor in the continually evolving threat landscape. This is especially the case with the ubiquity of mobile devices on the continent. The risk of lost or stolen devices providing an easy point of access to sensitive data must be mitigated with a security approach that encompasses these critical touch points,” says Opil.
Additionally, IP protection must be proactive. Companies can ill afford to have that data compromised and try and keep it secure after the fact.
“A cyber security solution needs to provide automatic protection against known and unknown threats. It must scan each programme, device, and other bits of information trying to access the network and assess its threat risk. By having this round-the-clock monitoring, a business (or entrepreneur) can have the peace of mind that all the necessary steps have been taken to protect IP,” adds Badenhorst.
IP protection is likely to become only more intense as the Internet of Things and the rise of connected device grow. The organisations and entrepreneurs that will be successful in the future will be the ones that protect themselves now.