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Protect your intellectual property

Plug holes to secure sensitive information

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in Human Resources,Leaders & Managers,Office Technology

With the growing use of temps, part-timers, contractors and on-site consultants, your workplace may start to look like a public library. Strangers come and go, freely glancing at confidential customer files or financial reports.

Safeguarding your company’s intellectual property thus poses a big challenge. Suggestions:

Define “sensitive information.” Many employees have no idea what is sensitive and what is not, or don’t even think about it.

Limit access. Don’t disseminate proprietary information widely. Rather than distributing a competitive analysis to everyone on your team, consider sending it to the team leader with clear instructions not to copy the report or let others “borrow” it. Another way to control copies is to clearly mark the original as sensitive material for limited distribution and number each copy you make.

Fight complacency. You insist that employees and outsiders sign confidentiality agreements, so you figure it’s fine to let delicate information flow freely. That’s a mistake. Signed agreements are often violated. A temp or departing employee can pilfer data and leak it, leaving you the costly task of enforcing the agreement. Even so, such agreements are still necessary.

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