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A recent study by PricewaterhouseCoopers US and CREATe.org found that the theft of trade secrets amount to one to three percent of the United States GDP.
According to the study, malicious insiders are the number one source of exposing trade secrets. The loss from occupational fraud amounts to about $3.5 trillion worldwide. With the significant economic impact of trade secret theft, what can a company do to better protect its trade secrets?
Malicious insiders are often current and former employees that have insider access to your company's information. Third parties that are privy to business information, like outside counsel, consultants and suppliers can also pose a threat, according to the study. Insiders are likely to be persuaded by outside actors who promise money, gifts, or ideological motivation.
The good news is that courts are willing to take action against these trade secret thieves, but having a solid workplace policy in place is needed.
How To Protect Your Trade Secrets
Although 18 U.S.C. §1832 punishes people who steal trade secrets, the best way to protect your proprietary information on the front lines is to mitigate potential threats. The PwC and CREATe.org study recommends these five steps:
Bottom line: Trade secret theft has a serious impact on the GDP and your company, so it's a good idea to revamp your company's proprietary information policy to address potential threats.
Editor's Note, March 1, 2016: This post was first published in February 2014. It has since been updated.