A new survey shows many companies are failing to do enough to prevent intellectual property theft.

Nowadays a company's most valuable assets can be stored on a USB key. In fact, as TechCrunch reports, across all S&P 500 companies, 87 percent of their assets consist of intellectual property. The value of intellectual property is high and, as a recent survey by global consulting firm Deloitte points out, most companies are concerned that cyber attacks on intellectual property will increase over the next year. That survey highlights not just how valuable intellectual property has become for many companies, but also how much more companies need to do to protect themselves against cyber attacks.

Threat from cyber attacks

The Deloitte survey asked 2,500 respondents representing corporations in a diverse array of industries their views on the risk of intellectual property theft from cyber attacks. As InfoSecurity Magazine points out, over half of respondents (58 percent) say they expect cyber theft of intellectual property to increase over the next year, with power and utilities, telecom, industrial products and services, and automotive companies being identified as the top targets for cyber attacks.

Interestingly, employees and insiders were singled out as being the most likely culprits in such attacks, with 20 percent of companies describing such people as the most likely culprits. Competing companies came in second, with 16 percent of respondents identifying them as the main culprits. Other players, such as activists and nation states, were seen as less likely to be threats.

Preventing attacks

While many companies recognize that cyber theft can come from within, those same companies don't always do enough to prevent such theft from happening. For example, only 17 percent of companies said they restrict access to their intellectual property on a need-to-know basis. Furthermore, nearly a third of companies were unaware if they had been subjected to a cyber theft within the past year, with just 12 percent of respondents saying they were certain they had been targeted by cyber theft.

Not only is intellectual property a major asset for large corporations, it is often the most important asset for small companies and tech startups. A tech startup, for example, may have only limited tangible assets, but it is often its intellectual property that manages to attract both investors and consumers. The loss of that property can, therefore, put a young company's entire future in doubt.

Intellectual property law

Intellectual property disputes are becoming a huge issue in today's rapidly advancing world. The loss of intellectual property can severely set a company back as can being accused of violating the intellectual property rights of another company. A law firm that is experienced in handling intellectual property cases will be in the best position to help clients that are involved in such disputes, including those relating to copyright infringement, cyber theft, patent law, and more.