When you think of the word espionage, you immediately imagine the adventures of James Bond, the tenseness of Jason Bourne, and the Cold War. While all this is pure fiction, the world of business tells a different story. There is business espionage in the real world, and it’s not always as dull and boring as you might think. Sure, there could be a journalist snooping around trying to get into contact with your business partners to write up a story. There could also be leaks of your newest products and or services that are revealed way ahead of time in the press, giving your rivals time to adjust and fight back. However, where it gets serious is from within your business. The access to critical information is something that is incredibly important. If your business doesn’t have some kind of procedure to ensure prying eyes are not looking at things you don’t want them to, it’s only a matter of time before your business is turned inside out.
What is critical information?
Right off the bat the term critical information should ring alarm bells. This kind of information is usually kept within the circles of the C-ranking employees. The various heads of departments, the executive board and the CEO should be the only people that know certain things about the business strategy. What is this information you ask? It includes things like how much debt is the business burdened with? You don’t want this leaking out so investors will run away scared or tarnish your brand in the public sphere. What kind business partners do you have? Maybe this is information the business partner does not want leaked out, as it could ruin their chances of other deals with rival companies. What kind of features will a new product have? You don’t want this sensitive information leaked so you can no longer have a grand unveiling and drum up hype for your sales.
Biting your nails yet?
What if you don’t have any kind of procedures in place that actually protect critical information from being absorbed by those you don’t want to? Your business is going to be about as buoyant as a bucket with holes in it. Starting by getting an Information governance audit which can help your design a system whereby you protect information from different levels of employees. You can also implement a system whereby you can detect unauthorised access but also give access to specific people. Even this will entail having checks and balances such as being given a set amount of time to a file, not being able to print it off, only specific people can be invited to look at it, and passwords being needed to open critical information. Can you trust your employees all the time? Sadly no, you can hope for the best but no successful business person has ever relied on hope alone to protect their extremely important information from leaking out.
Critical information is worth its own weight in gold. Being able to protect information from employees and from those outside the business can save you from public humiliation and assure investors their privacy is taken seriously.