Daniel Schnapp Discusses How Employers Can Protect Confidential Information With a Remote Workforce

As the Delta variant rages on and workplaces continue to extend their remote and work-from-home policies, the question of how to appropriately secure and protect vital company information is rising, says attorney Daniel Schnapp. Unsecured home Wi-Fi networks, an increase in video conferences, and a lack of on-site IT support all increase the vulnerability of trade secrets and confidential information to cyber-attacks or ransomware.

While this kind of security breach could be disastrous for any company, it could be especially devastating for those in banking, healthcare, and other government-regulated industries. In these industries, loss or exposure of vital information can result in more than just loss of public trust–it can mean hundreds of thousands of dollars in fines and class action lawsuits.

In addition to these considerations, all employers are required to make a reasonable effort to protect their trade secrets under the federal Trade Secrets Act (DTSA). If they don’t take the proper precautions, the information may lose “trade secret” status and no longer be protected by the law.

Keep Your Data and Security Policies Up to Date Advises Daniel Schnapp

Make sure that you regularly update and maintain your security and data policies and procedures, says IP attorney Daniel Schnapp. Make sure you cover the proper procedures for accessing, using, sharing, and saving proprietary or confidential information.

You should also hold annual training on these policies and procedures to ensure that your employees have a comprehensive understanding of how to keep this information secure. After completing training and assessment, have your employees agree to these policies in writing. Signing the policy/employee handbook is often a good way to capture this information.

Keep Access at a Need-to-Know Basis

The best way to keep information confidential is to limit the number of people who are aware of it or have access to it. Limiting access makes it much easier to track who is using and viewing information and when allowing you to track suspicious behavior and stop violations of policy before they get out of hand. If you have no access tracking system, it’s going to be very difficult to discover what went wrong in case of a breach, says Daniel Schnapp.

It’s also best to have policies in place to limit physical access to information. Preventing printing, copying, and sharing of the information drastically decreases the likelihood that it will fall into the wrong hands.

Create Exit Strategies

All company data policies should include access revocation for any furloughed or terminated employees. Before they leave the premises (if possible) have them return all company devices and files advises Daniel Schnapp. You should also remind them that they agreed to keep all trade secrets confidential when they signed the employee handbook.


Show More