Where is the value in my company data?

Not so long ago businesses only needed to concern themselves with preventing people from physically entering company premises and accessing important data from within the premises or even only in paper form. However, employers can find it much more difficult to preserve a business’ commercially sensitive data where employees are able to store that data on company mobile devices or even on their own personal devices where the employer operates a so-called ‘Bring Your Own Device’ (‘BYOD’) scheme. Equipped with the latest technology, it is now easier than ever to access business data – an asset of the company and potential intellectual property – remotely. Savvy organisations will, therefore, use software to control, monitor and record when critical documents or data are accessed on their IT systems.

When an employee leaves, recovering important data and intellectual property from mobile devices can be complicated and, particularly in the case of BYOD devices, employers will not generally be entitled to physical recovery of the particular devices themselves.

Employment contracts may specify that any intellectual property created by employees is owned by the employer. However, sometimes things are not that clear cut. If there are no terms in the employment contract, an argument may arise as to whether the data, in fact, belongs to the departing individual employee which could, of course, be a senior member of your company. In exceptional cases, it may even be necessary to obtain a court order to require the destruction or deletion of business data from a BYOD device.

Should your company be in the situation whereby it becomes apparent to members of your workforce that the company is experiencing financial difficulty, then the likelihood of a data security breach may increase significantly. A consequence will be an adverse effect on any inherent value in the company data or intellectual property, this to the ultimate detriment of company creditors.

If the issues raised in this article are causing concern, it may be appropriate to talk to one of our experienced practitioners. There is no charge for an initial consultation. Contact us.