Corporate information in any company can be compared to the lifeblood of a human being. It traverses all over, collecting or depositing material, causing alteration or stemming performance. It is therefore vital to provide smooth flow while ensuring safety controls in the dissemination of such information.
Corporate information may range from normal day-to-day data to highly confidential and proprietary information. Sometimes, different forms of data cannot be differentiated and controlled. Let’s explore some of the ways we can protect corporate information.
- Responsibility, Loyalty and Conscience. One of the most traditional methods of protecting corporate information is to instill a sense of responsibility, loyalty and conscience while company personnel are gainfully employed with the company. While automated systems improve efficiency of production, it also alienates the human element and as such the employees develop a sense of disillusionment, non-appreciation of their work and they neither feel bound nor responsible for the work to be accomplished. Responsibility, loyalty and conscience can be achieved by providing for a direct person-to-person interaction between seniors and juniors within the company.
- Policies for Use of Corporate Data and Information. When employees join or leave a company, they should be made aware of use of data and information within the company. The policies should detail how such use must be made, the procedures to be followed and where ownership of such information lies. This will enable smooth and more importantly regulated flow of corporate information and data.
- Physical Control. Data was traditionally stored in hard copies such as paper and tapes. Subsequently portable data storage media such as floppy discs, compact discs and thumb drives are now used. Such portability enables easy leaks and theft of information. Apart from physical checks, many companies have a centralized server where electronic data is preserved and its use controlled. Standalone machines, if any, having electronic reading media such as CD or DVD readers are physically disabled or uninstalled. These systems help in protecting corporate information to a large extent.
- Contracts. Agreements between employer and employee and between the company and external parties or agencies effectively protect corporate information. Contracts provide for effective control during and after the period of the contract itself. The contracts may be independent or part of employment or third party engagement contracts.
- Termination. One of the many overlooked but highly relevant forms of protection of corporate information is the formal termination of contracts. Apart from peaceful resignations of employees, when a company is faced with disgruntled employees or has terminated employees due to failure to perform, misdemeanor or other negative reasons, the potential to leak or damage of corporate information is very high. Therefore, care must be exercised by the company in terminating the contract with employees and third parties.
Management and protection of corporate information requires the ability to maintain efficiency of the company without compromising on the human element. The thrust of every company to protect its corporate information should be to ensure regulated and controlled data and information use during the period of employment internally and while using such information with third parties.