Leakage of information from a company
Information plays an increasingly important role in the competitive struggle of companies. And the winner in the end becomes the one in whose hands the classified information of competing firms is collected. The emergence of new IT-technologies increases the dependence of companies on information systems, and the use of electronic databases makes them pay attention to the protection of cyberspace. Information leakage due to unauthorized access to information bases, personnel negligence or deliberate theft of confidential information becomes the cause of material losses for the company.
Brad Molen (editor of Engadget) published an article discussing the benefits and harms of information leakage for the affected company. According to Molen, information leaks are an integral part of the digital era. And the fight against this phenomenon is reminiscent of Don Quixote's battle with windmills. By analyzing the reaction of the population to the rumors that have appeared, companies will be able to adjust their strategy of work.
Molen believes that modern man is obsessed with information leaks. This is akin to predictions: a person wants to know today what will happen tomorrow. For example, the new iPhone is not yet on sale, but a million people know everything about its look and functionality. This became possible thanks to photographs that appeared on the Internet. Whether it was a classified information leak or a hidden advertising campaign remained unclear. But millions of people have passed their verdict on the new device.
Brad likens such leaks to film spoilers. Only they do not tell about the content of the film, but present a new product. And here's the paradox: even those who hate spoilers are interested in leaks.
Leaks of confidential information in the modern world have become the norm, according to Molen. Secret information is spread by company employees, putting their careers at risk, corporations themselves interested in discussing new products, partner organizations participating in the development of a new project. And the worst thing, according to Brad, is the inability to distinguish the truth from the lie.
Information leaks will inevitably harm a company in two situations:
- If the novelty appears on the market earlier than the predicted time. This leads to a decrease in demand.
- If the new product does not meet the expectations of the customers.
Fake leaks are also not easy. Information that gets publicized creates expectations for the client. If the company manages to meet these expectations, everyone wins. But otherwise, the manufacturer runs the risk of disappointing buyers.
However, the benefits of leaks can hardly be overestimated. Comments on the forums dedicated to the smallest details of the novelty are a victory for the manufacturer. The marketing system works on how to show the new product to the maximum number of people. And leaks help to grab the attention of customers and keep it for a long time.
In addition, companies use the loss of information to test focus groups. Using comments after leaks, manufacturers are finalizing new gadgets. Also, the loss of information intensifies the competition between companies. Improving products and introducing new technologies are the benefits of leaks.
Information leaks have a negative impact on managers and the gadget market. Companies are preparing a presentation and a ceremonial launch of new products on sale, but the loss of information can nullify all efforts. Despite all the methods of protecting information, the number of information thefts is constantly growing.
The most difficult thing is to keep the expected novelty secret. The stronger the desire of people to obtain information about the gadget, the more likely it is to be stolen. An example of such a situation is Gizmodo, which acquired a prototype iPhone and generated millions of views.
Methods for dealing with information loss are varied. The head of Huawei Devices turned the information leak into a management strategy. Having initiated the theft, the head of the company showed the clients the novelty two weeks before the official presentation. And the chief editor of Motorola was expelled in disgrace from the press conference for divulging information.
The fight against leaks continues, but there will be no winners, according to Molen. The leak is becoming a fact of the digital age. However, one question remains unresolved: how to determine which information is true and which is not. And here there is only one recommendation - to focus on the reputation of the source. If the information turns out to be fake, the source loses trust. And such an approach, according to Brad Molen, makes it possible to predict a less grim future for theft of confidential information.
Nobody can guarantee the repetition of deliberate theft of trade secrets. But you can secure confidential information. This requires a set of measures:
- Determine the causes of the leaks. This requires an internal investigation. Having identified the cause of the loss of information, it should be immediately eliminated, excluding the repetition of the incident. Interception of telephone conversations of staff, non-destroyed documentation, and uncontrolled information on stands are common causes of leaks. To prevent a repetition of the incident, employees should be instructed on the rules of document flow, as well as purchase a shredder for cutting closed documents that are no longer needed.
- The next reason for data loss is commercial espionage. The source of information is current employees or recently retired employees. A common "legal" way to get information of interest is to post a job advertisement for a top manager or other top manager. During the interview, the interviewer asks questions about the previous place of work, projects implemented by the employee. Thus, companies receive information about the projects and plans of competitors.
- Preventive measures. The statistics are disappointing - usually managers think about strengthening the protection of infobases after a leak incident occurs. This means that competitors have already gained an advantage that could lead to the liquidation of the affected company.
To prevent such a situation, you should:
- analyze in detail the incident, as well as its consequences at the general meeting, explaining the importance of the safety of commercial information;
- establish a corporate secrecy regime provided for by the federal law on commercial secrets;
- familiarize staff with signature with the rules of document flow;
- sign and maintain non-disclosure agreements with contractor companies. They indicate the responsible persons, date and signature;
- narrow down the number of employees who have the right to access confidential information. To do this, the main tasks are broken down into smaller ones, which are distributed among the employees. A limited number of responsible employees owns the full volume of information regarding the project;
- secure information that is transmitted over the Internet. To do this, the company's security service installs filters that allow you to track the transfer of files to third-party e-mails or sites, establishing who exactly sent which files. The installation of applications for copiers, faxes, printers allows you to control the printing or scanning of documentation;
- create a clear list of confidential information, enshrined in nondisclosure orders. This will increase liability if the leak occurs again. Disciplinary measures include fines, reprimands, transfers and dismissals.
The staff of the company must form a conscious observance of precautions and conditions for working with corporate information. Otherwise, the company will lose the competition.
- Counter move. It is difficult to counter unfair competition, including commercial espionage, theft of intellectual property, and discrediting competing companies. But preventing theft of corporate information is a doable task. To become a winner in competitive wars, a company must vary the rules of the market game in accordance with market changes. And for every action of a competing company, a response or opposition must be prepared.
- Flexibility and speed of decision change. Market changes are an impetus for a change in the strategy of an advertising company. Creation of favorable promotional conditions is not enough. It will be more effective to implement a new idea using non-price competitive methods. For example, product tasting or test drive, free distribution of testers will help attract interest in new products. Such an action requires financial and time expenditures, but the result is worth it. This marketing ploy expands the customer base, retaining the attention of existing customers, and also demonstrates to competing companies the potential, creativity, business flexibility and speed of reaction to changing market conditions.
So, despite the serious risks that arise from leaks of classified information, it is possible to prevent such incidents with a responsible attitude.