Growing costs of intellectual property theft

Intellectual property theft is defined by the FBI as “robbing people or companies of their ideas, inventions, and creative expressions”. This type of theft can cause big problems for organizations, especially those in the technology and pharmaceutical industries where patents and product designs are central to the businesses’ success. 

The theft of intellectual property is extremely costly, with the Commission on the Theft of American Intellectual Property estimating that the total annual cost of intellectual property theft is as high as $600 billion.

How is intellectual property stolen?

Much of the discussion around IP theft focuses on China-based threats to intellectual property. While a significant player, China does not monopolize intellectual property theft. For example, in April, a U.S. trade judge ruled on Friday that Google infringed five patents belonging to Sonos related to smart speakers. 

Unfortunately, a great deal of intellectual property is unwittingly exposed by companies themselves – through Shadow IT and contractors. For example, as part of our previous research into file exposure, Too Much Information, our team discovered sensitive source code and patent information publicly available online. This type of data is exposed at a surprising rate. 

Protecting intellectual property

Intellectual Property Protection includes approaches to protect the IP by introducing copyrights, trademarks, or patents. Security teams can then protect this sensitive data from being stolen with various controls and attempting to prevent this data leaving the corporate network. 

We now know that organizations do not have a perimeter and, instead, data moves between suppliers, employees and other online locations. This increases the likelihood that this data will eventually become exposed. Therefore, organizations should assume that their sensitive data is already exposed and seek to discover it before their adversaries do.

HowSearchLight (now ReliaQuest’s GreyMatter Digital Risk Protection)helps

Whether from corporate espionage or inadvertent exposure from an employee, third party, or contractor, intellectual property loss is commonplace. 

Digital Shadows SearchLight (now ReliaQuest GreyMatter DRP)™ protects your organization’s proprietary documents and source code outside of your network through continuous monitoring across the broadest range of open, deep, dark, web, including technical and closed sources.