The importance of protecting your information as a business

Starting a business is hard enough as it is, without the added factors of losing your competitive advantage, your “know how”. 

Protecting your information is not just about the names of your customers. It is also about your margins, your profit, the contracts you have with your providers and how your business operates as a whole. In summary, everything that, if leaked to your competitors, could really harm your business.  

How to protect your business from the damage of losing control of that information?  

There are many steps that you can take, and you must take. 

Having good security systems in place. We live in the era of Internet and even though we live a little bit less worried about where we submit our information, there are many people trying to get your data, so: 

  • Beware of where you leave your business information, the info you submit to potential providers before signing any documents 
  • Make sure you antivirus is up to date. Surprisingly not everyone takes care of it, and it is the most obvious way to leave your door open. 
  • Have internal SOPs for everything, as much as possible, it seems like not important when you are a small company, but not only it will help you to scale up, but to clarify when to share information and when not to do it. 
  • Have a Non-Disclosure agreement for every external and internal relationship that your business has. Define in a legal document how information should be treated and the consequences of spreading your information. It is not only an effective way of saying you are a serious business, but it is an incentive to do things right. 
  • Have everything documented and registered legally, the more organised you are, the easiest it will be to prove things if you need to 

Benefits of having a Non-Disclosure agreement 

  • It not only avoids you the risk of people sharing your information, but it proves that you know how to deal with confidential information 
  • The document usually ensures clarity on what is confidential and what is not, so it make things easier for both parties.  
  • It usually limits the situations where parties can make use of the information shared, so again, it helps clarifying.  
  • It makes clears the consequences of disclosing confidential information.  

Sign it online. 

Most business collaborate with people that are not physically in the same city or country as they are, so why would you send a word document and wait for someone that you do not know to sign it in person. IPs and email addresses are more recognisable nowadays and most countries recognise e-signatures as something equally valid, so, make sure that when you have a legal document signed, you do it in a way that is legally recognised.  

Imagine the situation if you must claim to someone in another country and the signature was not even theirs? How would you sustain that in court? The situation changes if you can claim their IP address and email address were involved in the signature process.  

If I work with people from everywhere, how do I know if they are keeping my secrets?  

With remote working raising exponentially platforms like Upwork have noticed a great evolution in their number of users. This brings to most companies a risk that they did not have before. Sending their information to other countries where they have no control of what would happen if someone spread their secrets.  

Unfortunately, that is a reality, and it is difficult to control if you hire someone in a different legal system. For this, the only solution is to verify that you could execute a legal contract or not. If this is not possible and you really need to hire abroad, make sure the information is content as much as possible and people just have access to the information, they need to do their job.  

Things that you need to have in mind when preparing a non-Disclosure 

As any legal document there are certain basic aspects that you need to include, depending on the country, and there are some extra clauses that could help you in certain situations.  

However, the most important part here is not to get crazy. Is it worth it to have a non-disclosure agreement of 20 pages for a designer who will be doing your logo?  

Legal documents must be reasonable, and it does not matter the country you are using it for. A legal document is a document that does not avoid you having issues, it just helps you clarify the situation in front of a judge if you end up going to court or the legal system in general. So, think about the clauses you want to add and resonate with what a judge will support or not in your country. It does not really matter how many months you want to forbid someone to disclose information that is public already 😊 

Protecting the information of your company is essential, so make sure you implement simple steps to avoid the pain and regret of not having it done in the first place.