Why manufacturers should be wary of IP theft
Intellectual property (IP) is the lifeblood of the manufacturing sector. It is the fruit of expensive and time-consuming research and development activities, and serves as a primary profit driver for most manufacturers. Owing to its importance, companies must devote sufficient resources to protect intellectual property against external threats.
How malicious actors execute IP thefts
Since the advent of the digital age, corporate espionage has practically gone extinct. Instead, threats tend to originate from the digital realm. The three most common methods of IP thefts are,
- Spear Phishing
This strategy entails the delivery of spoofed emails or digital messages to specific personnel inside a company. Once the targeted individual clicks on the link, the attacker will be able to access the company’s internal infrastructure.
- Zero-day vulnerability exploitation
As sure as the sun will rise, software will have bugs or vulnerabilities. This is why even tech giants deliver regular updates to keep their software secure. However, for little known software, especially customised ones, there is unlikely to be anyone who will be keeping an eye out for vulnerabilities or provide regular security updates.
As a result, the vulnerability will remain in place, sometimes for years, and no out-of-the-box anti-virus software will be able to protect it. Malicious actors who are aware of vulnerabilities in certain software will be able to exploit them to gain access to the internal infrastructure of companies.
- Man in the middle
‘Man in the middle attacks’ are achieved when malicious actors insert themselves between two points of communication (typically in a wireless environment), allowing them to intercept and monitor emails and messages. Eventually, the attackers will have gathered sufficient information to access the internal system.
In all three instances, companies would be able to protect their IPs by implementing the following simple, yet comprehensive solutions.
- Limit the access of IP data. The more is definitely not the merrier here.
- Take any IP data offline, whenever possible. Not all servers, storage units or computers need to be perpetually connected to the internet.
- Educate all employees on a continuous basis against potential threats. This includes the protection of customer data, which has become a valuable commodity since the passing of the EU’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) legislation.
Vigilance and continuous internal process improvements are keys towards protecting your company’s intellectual property.