A Quick Start Defensive CI Checklist

May 31, 2016

What is competitively sensitive data (CSD)? CSD includes data from which a third party can reconstruct your trade secrets as well as data which, if accessed by competitors, would diminish your competitive advantage and/or improve theirs. That varies from firm to firm and could be customer lists, product formulations, pricing tactics, total sales and profits, or employee incentive systems.

Very few firms worry about restricting the way their competitors may be able to access CSD. Even fewer firms have formal defensive CI programs. However, there are a few simple first steps that all firms and individuals involved with CI can take to protect against their competitors’ actual or potential CI activities.

Here is a short check list to get started:

  • Identify which of your data is truly competitively sensitive.
  • Assess your current CSD inventory. In particular, check your business web sites as well as the firm’s social media sites, such as postings on YouTube and Face Book for CSD already in plain sight. Take it down at once. Check employee sites for similar leaks and alert them to take action.
  • Know where your firm produces and stores CSD, who has access to it (including third party contractors), and why they have that access.
  • Minimize your CSD footprint. Restrict access to CSD by your personnel and third parties. Base that access not on trust or previous reliability, but only on a real, current need to know.
  • Train all employees, particularly those that are customer-facing, such as sales and support, on what CSD is and how to spot efforts to get access to it.
  • Work with third parties who have access to your CSD to sensitize them to the need to protect it. Make sure your agreements with them cover this point.
  • Work with corporate security to reinforce protections against the accidental release of CSD as they do with trade secrets.
  • Make sure employees and third parties know who to notify if they suspect the possible leak or loss of CSD.
  • Don’t over react. CSD usually loses its value over time, so don’t try and protect everything from everyone forever.

4 Comments on “A Quick Start Defensive CI Checklist”

  1. […] What is competitively sensitive data (CSD)? CSD includes data from which a third party can reconstruct your trade secrets as well as data which, if accessed by competitors, would diminish your competitive advantage and/or improve theirs. That varies from firm to firm and could be customer lists, product formulations, pricing tactics, total sales and profits, or employee incentive systems. Very few firms worry about restricting the way their competitors may be able to access CSD. Even fewer firms have formal defensive CI programs. However, there are a few simple first steps that all firms and individuals involved with CI can take to protect against their competitors’ actual or potential CI activities.  […]

  2. […] What is competitively sensitive data (CSD)? CSD includes data from which a third party can reconstruct your trade secrets as well as data which, if accessed by competitors, would diminish your competitive advantage and/or improve theirs. That varies from firm to firm and could be customer lists, product formulations, pricing tactics, total sales and profits, or employee incentive systems. Very few firms worry about restricting the way their competitors may be able to access CSD. Even fewer firms have formal defensive CI programs. However, there are a few simple first steps that all firms and individuals involved with CI can take to protect against their competitors’ actual or potential CI activities.  […]

  3. […] What is competitively sensitive data (CSD)? CSD includes data from which a third party can reconstruct your trade secrets as well as data which, if accessed by competitors, would diminish your competitive advantage and/or improve theirs. That varies from firm to firm and could be customer lists, product formulations, pricing tactics, total sales and profits, or employee incentive systems. Very few firms worry about restricting the way their competitors may be able to access CSD. Even fewer firms have formal defensive CI programs. However, there are a few simple first steps that all firms and individuals involved with CI can take to protect against their competitors’ actual or potential CI activities.  […]

  4. […] What is competitively sensitive data (CSD)? CSD includes data from which a third party can reconstruct your trade secrets as well as data which, if accessed by competitors, would diminish your competitive advantage and/or improve theirs. That varies from firm to firm and could be customer lists, product formulations, pricing tactics, total sales and profits, or employee incentive systems. Very few firms worry about restricting the way their competitors may be able to access CSD. Even fewer firms have formal defensive CI programs. However, there are a few simple first steps that all firms and individuals involved with CI can take to protect against their competitors’ actual or potential CI activities.  […]


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