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Using behavioural analytics tools to counter IP theft

Posted: 21 Aug 2015 ?? ?Print Version ?Bookmark and Share

Keywords:IP protection? Kaspersky Lab? software? open source?

The process of securing intellectual property (IP) and confidential product data is increasingly becoming very difficult for many organisations. For one, companies under the helm of the electronics manufacturing industry are at risk, where hardware design progressively involves open source software.

All indications are that IP theft is on the rise. Just one example is the long-running lawsuit between a U.K. defence contractor, Meggitt, and its former employee who allegedly stole sensor specifications. It's hard to obtain precise numbers because few companies want to publicise their weaknesses and losses, but according to research by security firm Kaspersky Lab, one in five manufacturing firms reported a loss of IP in 2014. And a recent Vormetric Insider Threat Report found that 89 per cent of global senior business managers and IT professionals surveyed felt that their organisations were now more at risk from an insider attack than ever before.

Dashboard in a typical behavioural analytics tool

The dashboard in a typical behavioural analytics tool uses complex algorithms and data visualisation to provide a view of risky behaviour across all software projects and their participants over time.

Most electronics products have always been a combination of hardware and software, but increasingly software is the competitive differentiator among manufacturers. Just as systems manufacturers don't create every single hardware component in their finished products, the software included in the products, such as operating systems, device drivers and applications, usually also includes externally created code. This third-party code may be a commercial set of graphical controls, for example, but these code components are coming more frequently from open source software (OSS) repositories, such as those held on public repositories such as SourceForge.

This software (both internally developed and OSS) and how it's assembled are just as much valuable IP of the company as the hardware designs. It's critical that adequate protections are applied to prevent IP leakage or theft.

Sadly, traditional cyber-protection tools don't look at who accesses source code and how they use it. They tend to focus on perimeter defence, preventing network and firewall breaches and guarding customers' personal information rather than monitoring who is accessing IP and what they're doing with it.

Code repositories are often set apart in silos, and software developers tend to work in isolation with their own processes, which makes close scrutiny difficult. There is also a volume issue; designers and coders may be performing thousands or millions of transactions with their code repositories, making it even harder to spot dangerous behaviours.

Behavioural analytics for IP protection

While traditional data analytics used in business has a broader focus on insights across a business, for example stock levels or customer purchasing history, behavioural analytics narrows that scope. It does this by applying a level of "understanding" to the data by forming data points into patterns of behaviour. This allows one to take seemingly unrelated data points and allow extrapolation and analysis of user or project behaviour.

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