The media consistently details stories regarding theft of information, trade secrets and innovation involving many different types of companies and industries. Yet protecting these “crown jewels” is often thought to involve only things like patents associated with the legal world. In reality, manufacturers create trade secrets and intellectual assets every day as they design, build, and install new equipment and technologies. In manufacturing, these “crown jewels” include things like drawings, programmable logic controller (PLC) code, designs, and manufacturing processes and data.
It is the defined and documented learning, troubleshooting data, and process setups that are ultimately the intellectual assets that result in the technology, process, and product advantage that a company holds in the marketplace. All of these factors must be protected because valuable trade secrets can be stolen and transferred to competitors in a simple email, while more aggressive cyberattacks can infiltrate corporate networks and provide outsiders with access to confidential data.