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A Guide for Protecting Proprietary Information - IV. Policies & Rules (cont.)

Article Index
A Guide for Protecting Proprietary Information
II. Impact of Disclosure
III. Examples of Confidential Information
IV. Policies & Rules
IV. Policies & Rules (cont.)
V. Executing Non-Disclosure Agreements
VI. Post Contract Debriefing
VII. Compliance Auditing
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8.  When sending an email containing sensitive information, staff members should insert the word "Confidential" in the email's title and/or in the first line of email text. This potentially provides an additional legal remedy in the event of unintended capture and / or review by a known unauthorized reader such as under the US Economic Espionage Act.

 9.  When operating a laptop, smartphone, tablet PC, or other mobile electronic device containing confidential information, staff should use a password controlled screensaver.  A staff member should not leave DO NOT LEAVE these electronic devices unattended unless passwords are in place.   Change passwords periodically, and avoid posting password near the computer or otherwise in plain view.  Use strong passwords (at least eight characters long).

10.  A staff member should immediately report to Company management any intentional or unintentional unauthorized disclosure of confidential information.

11.  A staff member should immediately report to Company management any attempt to obtain confidential information using a misleading or fraudulent means.

12.  Staff should exercise caution when talking about business to an unauthorized listener or were others can overhear the conversation.  Proprietary information often gets disclosed to unauthorized individuals either through inadvertent disclosure during an informal conversation with an unauthorized individual or through an unauthorized individual overhearing a conversation.  Staff can minimize the risk of innocent disclosures by applying three basic questions:

  • Is the person authorized to know the information?
  • Does the person need to know the information?
  • Does an unauthorized person potentially have access to the information when being disclosed (eavesdropping  on a conversation, glancing over a shoulder, reading a computer screen, etc)?

13.  A staff member should not READ, ACCESS OR USE IN ANY MANNER the confidential information belonging to a third party if not authorized to view the information.  This action could cause the Company to violate a non-disclosure contractual obligation or violate international criminal law such as the US Economic Espionage Act.

14.  A staff member should not READ, ACCESS OR USE IN ANY MANNER confidential information of Company or a Company Customer if not authorized to view the information.

15.  A staff member should assume that all use of Company confidential information is restricted to internal use only unless Company management expressly authorizes the  disclosure or use outside of the Company.

16.  A staff member should not photocopy or reproduce confidential records unless authorized by the information originator or the information's manger.  Reproduction of confidential information increases the risk of inadvertent disclosure.

17.  The Company should appoint one or more managers with responsible for managing organizational record retention.  Staff members should coordinate long-term storage and ultimate destruction of confidential information with the record retention manager.

18.  Staff members who create confidential information should promptly mark or designate confidential information as “confidential” as quickly as possible once the information is created.  For electronic or hardcopy documents, the confidentiality notation should appear in a prominent and visible location on the document cover sheet or heading and, if possible, throughout the document.  A confidential designation can appear as a distinguishable stamp (many use a red inked stamp), as part of the text of the document, or through a separate cover sheet. 

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