Report profiles IP thieves and why they steal

Who steals intellectual property, why they take it and what property they are most likely to snag are the subjects of a new report by San Francisco-based Internet security provider Symantec. The “Behavioral Risk Indicators” report includes tips for employers to spot IP thieves. Insider intellectual property theft has a pattern, according to the Symantec study, which was put together by risk managers and psychological profilers.

The majority of people who steal IP from employers are men. The research indicates IP thieves are most often younger than age 40, with an average age of 37. Most work in a technical field like engineering, programming or the scientific arena.

Profiles indicate the average IP bandit secures employment outside his employer’s company before committing the theft. Half performed the crime within six months of leaving an employer to go to a new company or open a business.

The majority of IP thefts are made by employees who need no extra special authorization to find data. Seventy-five percent of the property stolen is information that the thief is already allowed to access.

Trade secrets make up more than half of all IP that is stolen. Administrative information is included in 30 percent of thefts. Source codes, proprietary software, customer data and business plans are IP theft favorites to a lesser degree.

The report suggests that employees steal intellectual property when they feel a company has not lived up to personal expectations. The Symantec study recommends that employers nip thefts in the bud by creating inside teams geared to prevent them.

IP theft is a complex area of the law that many employers may not feel too familiar with, but there are remedies available to employers who think they may have grounds for a lawsuit regarding IP theft.

Source: Examiner, “Intellectual property theft profiles and warning signs revealed by new research,” Thomas Ahearn, Dec. 9, 2011