Intellectual property is the lifeblood of your organization, which means your computer-aided design (CAD) files and other important data are always at risk of theft. The most effective way to mitigate your risk of unwanted information transfer, whether accidental or intentional, is to take preventative steps toward blocking your data from those who shouldn’t have access to it. This blog will discuss our top recommendations for keeping your CAD files in the right hands.
What are the Most Effective Data Protection Strategies?
1. Utilize Non-Disclosure Agreements (NDAs)
Protect your company and data from human error or unintentional disclosure by enforcing the utilization of non-disclosure agreements (NDAs). An NDA is a legal contract between at least two parties that limits sharing information to an undisclosed third party. NDAs can be used as an effective data protection strategy for your employees, especially for the onboarding of a new team member, subctonractor, or partners. NDAs also reach far beyond current projects. They allow you to manage customer proposals that were not executed, but still require the protection of sensitive material.
To some, it may seem strict to have every partner and xemployee – from administrator to CEO – sign an NDA, but it is a necessary step when it comes to protecting your organization from intellectual property theft. NDAs become particularly helpful when partnering with external organizations who will gain access to sensitive information and proprietary intellectual property. A mutual, or two-sided, NDA can be used to restrict the information that can be shared and guarantees that no exclusive information be disclosed without legal repercussions. When data is leaked from within your own walls, there can be irreparable financial and reputational data breaches. Making NDAs a part of your regular data protection strategy is a great place to start.
2. Restrict Files that Employees Can Share
With the increasing number of remote, digital-dependent workers in every field and around the globe, it’s important to enforce data protection measures, not only with outside partners, but also within your own teams. Limiting the ability of your employees to share, download or send files is a simple way to ensure there are no unwanted changes as files are passed around within an organization.
A ‘Read Only’ file has restricted privileges, giving the owner ultimate access to who can make changes. From this file type, the end-user can only make a copy – protecting the integrity of your original information.
One key problem however, is that any “Read-Only’ or “Collaborative Editing” file can still be copied and manipulated, and it can still be viewed once it’s in the hands of an end-user, so it’s not a foolproof way of guarding your intellectual property from ending up in the hands of a competitor or an internal bad actor. This may not go far enough to ultimately protect your company from data theft.
3. Bolster Your Network Defenses
Protect your perimeter as your first line of defense. Make sure your patches are up-to-date, your mobile devices are secured and backed up, your full system backups are up-to-date, and conduct user training on how cyber attacks happen. Firewalls are constantly monitoring your private network or intranet, recognizing those who should have access and denying those who should not. A reliable firewall can identify threats, immediately deny access and alert your organization to potential breaches, further protecting your sensitive information.
Building security walls around your networks is a vital step toward protecting your data. A firewall is one of many trusted CAD data protection measures used to achieve CMMC, or Cybersecurity Maturity Model Certification, compliance. Achieving this compliance measure, through the use of firewalls, technological advancements, encryption and more, aids in keeping America’s Controlled Unclassified Information (CUI) protected.
While a good preventative step to take, a firewall cannot be your standalone data protection strategy. It’s important to remember that with increased remote work comes more machines and shared data to protect, potentially hindering your employee experience. Consider using a multi-factor security measure, or MFA, to verify user identification. This ensures that the right people get to the right data – and more importantly, that the wrong people don’t. And, at the end of the day, firewalls don’t protect your data against email attacks, the most likely place for a lateral attack to begin and for data to be stolen
Another key weakness in relying solely on firewalls to protect your intellectual property is that they can’t protect against an internal employee accessing your data inside your network. An internal bad actor who operates inside your firewall can easily download files and then transport them outside of your network using a USB. According to the 2019 Verizon Data Breach Investigations Report, as many as 72% of departing employees admit to taking company data and 70% of intellectual property theft occurs within the 90 days before an employee’s resignation announcement.
4. Encrypt Your Files with an MFA
Did you know that 95% of all cyber attacks happen through email? And that one in every 3,000 emails has malware that is never seen by current filters, while one in 4,000 has malware that has never been seen before. You might think that password protecting your most important files will do the trick. While this is a good place to start, it’s most effective to reinforce your data protection strategies with encryption. But password-protecting documents and files, among other forms of traditional encryption, can be extremely frustrating to your internal employees, hindering the experience of a users’ workflow, prompting them to find workarounds to these measures and thus leaving you even less secure.
While passwords simply put a wall in front of your data, they’re easily compromised. Deploying an end-to-end encryption strategy allows the security to travel with the data, which assures those allowed to view and edit a secure document, can access it without delays associated with traditional encryption methods.
Encryption can be used on all data, big or small. This data protection strategy is widely used in the defense contracting world, an industry that has some of the most rigorous data protection standards out there. These standards include the five levels of cybersecurity maturity at which an organization can be certified: performed, documented, managed, reviewed, and optimized. The defense world is full of Controlled Unclassified Information (CUI) files that have to be secured in order to keep the country safe, and Anchor is their secret weapon.
The trick to successful end-to-end encryption is to make sure you always have someone who can unlock your data for you, and ensure that user experience is preserved and workflow isn’t interrupted. Which leads us to tip number five for protecting your CAD files.
5. Deploy Zero-Trust & Zero-Knowledge Architecture Solution
Anchor is an affordable and powerfully simple way for businesses to secure and control their intellectual property from design to delivery, solving some of the challenges that the above methods have in protecting your data from theft. Taking the necessary steps to protect your data can feel like a daunting task, but with Anchor you can focus on doing what you do best. With Zero Knowledge architecture, only those meant to see your data can. This level of security assures that even your cloud administrators can’t view the data. And if you experience a cloud breach, like many Microsoft users did, the cyber criminals would only receive encrypted data which is useless to them.
The days of abiding by painfully slow VPNs are long gone. Regardless of where your team works from, Anchor also brings security to your mobile device, not the other way around. This guarantees that your data is protected no matter what – even if it’s stored in the cloud, on a USB drive, at the jobsite or on a remote employee’s computer. Plus, Anchor also works in harmony with your CAD software, minimizing disruptions to your workflows. From CUI files, including video and audio to Autodesk AutoCAD, we will make sure your confidential files are locked down with zero-trust architecture so that you don’t run the risk of losing precious intellectual property, or having someone use it against you.
Interested in learning more about what data protection strategies Datanchor can provide for you? Let us walk you through the platform today!