What to Do When Digital Assets are Lost, Stolen, or Compromised

 In IT Security

In today’s tech-driven world, planning for the protections of your business’ digital assets is absolutely paramount.  Cyber security is an issue that has taken center stage in recent years and is something that every business owner should be concerned with.

Absolutely everything is digital and online these days, and so just about every business has digital assets that are of high value and must be protected.  These digital assets include everything from accounts receivable, to employee and customer data and personal information, to business photos, websites, apps, contact lists, subscriptions, intellectual property, copyrights, licensing, permits, and so much more.  Your digital assets may exist on your own servers, or they may reside in cloud databases. And, like all valuable things owned by your business, your digital assets are also of great importance. For instance, they allow you to do things like claim expenses, sell, entice investors, establish goodwill, protect and record for auditing purposes, etc.  So, how do you go about protecting your digital assets?  

How to Protect Digital Assets

Asset security should be at the forefront of your mind at all times, whether you’re dealing with in-house information, client information, business-to-business dealings, or any other valuable pieces of information that your business is storing digitally.  Loss can happen for a number of reasons. From human error, to theft, and natural disaster, the recovery process is all about taking proactive measures. Here are some steps you should take:

  • Register Ownership – Make your ownership clear by registering all digital assets.  From trademarks to patents, you want to cover everything from your business’ processes and procedures, to photos, websites, content, and beyond.
  • Locate and List – Always keep a comprehensive list of all of your business’ assets.  This includes anything that you have online or on your business’ server that could be valuable.  You want to include things that are proprietary, those things that only you have but others might want.  
  • Establish Ownership and Value – Establish specific ownership of each listed asset.  Even though this may keep changing as you add customers, employees, new processes, etc. to your list, it’s better to have some idea of assigned proof of ownership now before assets are lost, stolen, or compromised.  It may help to consult with a business appraiser who can help with value estimates as well.   
  • Set Protective Agreements – Get ahead of those who may wish to steal your assets by protecting them with agreements.  For example, having NDAs signed by clients, personnel, and consultants sets legal guidelines for the consequences of stealing assets.
  • Plan Ahead – In the event of business turnover, make sure that you have a plan in place that includes your digital assets in your company agreements.  For instance, if you’re a small business run by a single owner, you’ll want digital assets included in your succession plans. 
  • Backup – Always have a backup plan!  Find a backup system that will protect all of your digital assets.  You may even consider multiple forms of backup, including hard drives and online systems like the cloud.  

All of these steps will help establish your digital asset management system.  It’s important to keep thorough documentation throughout the process, even as it evolves, so that you can set up specific ongoing tasks for routine backups and reviews.  The recovery of compromised or lost assets is all about taking proactive measures. Your goal should be to prevent human error, register intellectual property, create protective agreements, and update security.  With the proper precautionary measures in place, you’ll be able to protect your business’ valuable information and quickly recover in the event of loss or breach.

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