Recently, the parent company of Budweiser, Anheuser Busch made a startling claim that its valuable IP regarding its beer recipes was stolen and delivered to its rivals Molson Coors. On first glance, it may appear a trivial issue — as in beer and insider threats? Is that even a possibility?

However, based on the claims related by Budweiser, Molson Coors which is the maker of Miller light, obtained secret recipes through an employer of Anheuser Busch. The Wall Street Journal reports the case in detail on how Budweiser has made serious allegations against Molson Coors. This brings us to the relevance of employing user and data activity monitoring, such as digital rights management to control and track document access and useand enable administrators to analyze potential data security incidents swiftly.

Today, more than ever, there is grave importance in quickly recognizing and analyzing a potential data security incident in progress. Here we look into more about the IP case and how companies can cut down similar data security risks and help prevent IP theft, regardless of their organization or sector.

How serious is case brewing on IP theft at Budweiser? Based on the litigation filing, Budweiser claims that a Molson Coors employee asked an employee from Anheuser Busch on data regarding recipes for Anheuser Busch beers. The filing reveals that the employee from Anheuser Busch printed out screenshots of recipes from Bud Light and Michelob Ultra and delivered them to the rival company. The court filing further claims that Miller Coors offered a job to the Anheuser Busch employee more than once.

This case is the latest in a lengthy list of legal disputes between both brewing companies, that started with Budweiser making a claim during the 2019 Super Bowl ads that Coors Light and Miller Light included corn syrup in their beer. Even as this case is being examined, corporate espionage claims such as these across industry and sector are grave incidents that must be investigated thoroughly.

Regardless of your company size or industry, you don’t have to be one of the largest companies in the nation or across the world to suffer data theft from IP pilferage. IP loss can take place in any company that holds valuable information, such as organizational or manufacturing secrets, client information, financial data, accounting details, health records and more. IP theft due to insiders can range from a variety of reasons such as financial stress, job dissatisfaction or revenge. Understanding these motivations is only part of the riddle, but getting a strong perception of employee jobs and roles and their wellness is a crucial part in preventing insider threats.

And while prevention alone may not be enough, companies must look into having a dedicated data security management defence in place. Digital rights management has a distinct advantage as a document security tool, as it gives power to content creators over who can access documents and how they can be used (i.e. preventing editing, copying, sharing, printing, screen grabbing, etc.). This system of externally focused security processes can prevent data exfiltration like the one that took place at Anheuser Busch. With document DRM, you can be assured that if any individual or employee is suspiciously attempting to obtain data then access rights can be instantly revoked. Thus, preventing a potential incident from ever likely to take place. A document DRM solution can prevent intellectual property theft from occurring whilst also enabling you to securely share documents outside the enterprise. 

When investigating data security threats from inside, speed and time are of critical importance. Such incidents must not take months to analyze and address the issue. With document DRM, the speed to investigate multiplies rapidly. Firstly, it prevents events such as these from taking place. In the likely scenario, it does happen, valuable and proven context as to which employee did what, when, where and how will be revealed. Rather than going through continuous logs of security files, security analysts can swiftly recognize the exact time a suspicious activity took place on a specific data file. They can then pair this data with the data on the file in question, whether it was redacted, copied, moved, destroyed or transferred from a machine. Methods of exfiltration such as screenshots, printouts and USB transfer can also be monitored.

Almost every company, when it comes to IT security budgets, the main focus is on technology and staffing. But the one critical area of data security budgeting that can play a significant impact on your company is often disregarded. With increasing regulations and rising data security threats on the horizon, having potential and reliable data security tools such as document rights management can prevent the overall risk of incidents. Data breaches are not only business-threatening but can also have a massive impact on revenue and reputation that can last a lifetime. This is why it is essential to understand how the cost of preventing a data security incident weighs against the cost of an actual data breach before you decide your IT budget.

Posted by Miley Dowling

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