Big tech brands cry foul over ex-employees and data security

February 28, 2017

An employee leaves. Next thing you know, a competitor is developing a new product with a “striking resemblance” to your own research and development efforts. Think that’s just a small business problem? No way a big name business would let that happen, right? Think again.

In recent days, Waymo, Google’s driverless car division, has filed a lawsuit against a former employee and Uber, the parent company of his new employer, for alleged violation of trade secrets.

Waymo claims that 14,000 “highly confidential and proprietary files” – including circuit designs for driverless Light Detection And Ranging (LIDAR) sensor technology – were downloaded by an employee shortly before his resignation.

The 9.7GB of data were copied onto an external hard drive connected to a company-issued laptop, the lawsuit alleges. A new operating system was then installed on the laptop with the “effect of reformatting [the device], attempting to erase any forensic fingerprints.”

The employee also talked to colleagues about his intention to leave and start a competitive business, Waymo claims.

The outcome of the legal case remains to be seen.

But it’s far from the first time a major name has claimed that an ex-employee has misused confidential data.

Earlier this year, Tesla also launched a lawsuit against a former employee over the alleged attempt to leave the business with confidential data – and poach key employees – to start a rival firm.

Ironically, for all their size and global renown, a simple, effective tech solution seems to have escaped these tech giants: data loss prevention.

The answer is to control employee access to confidential data and limit the ability to copy, print, email, share, or save key files to an external drive. The solution is to use technology to keep data where it belongs – inside your business.

You can learn more about the threat to confidential data when employees leave a business in our Quick Guide.

What you’ll discover is that the exiting employee poses a frighteningly common threat to data security.

Eight out of 10 departing employees are likely to take strategy documents or presentations with them.

Problem is, they see it as their work, not your intellectual property.

Likewise, one in three employees will take customer contact details with them when they leave because they think it’ll give them a head start in their next job.

So whether you’re Google, Tesla or any growing, ambitious business keen to protect your intellectual property, give us a call. We’d be happy to help.

Categorized in: