Advisen Loss Insight focus: intellectual property

By Erin Ayers on August 22, 2014

Advisen’s Loss Insight database showed a sharp drop-off in cyber cases affecting intellectual property in 2013, suggesting that either the focus for hackers has shifted, or companies have learned to protect their IP more effectively.

The decrease followed a sharp spike in the number of cases in 2007, relative stability until a peak in 2012.

Advisen data show that services industries experienced the highest number of cyber-related IP cases (39.29 percent), followed by public administration (20.54 percent). Wholesale and retail trade followed at just over 14 percent, with the finance, insurance and real estate sector just after at over 13 percent.

Frequent examples of cases involved former employees absconding with computer back-up tapes containing customer information.

In one case, the lost data from C-W Agencies in Vancouver represented $10 million worth of competitive customer information. In another case, a lawsuit against product developer Intuit, Inc., plaintiffs alleged that a faulty product update had deleted scores of purchase orders, spreadsheets and other business data.

Costs in IP cyber cases range from $40,000 up to $160 million, Advisen data showed.

“Foreign economic collection and industrial espionage against the United States represent significant and growing threats to the nation’s prosperity and security,” the Office of the National Counterintelligence Executive reports. “Cyberspace—where most business activity and development of new ideas now takes place—amplifies these threats by making it possible for malicious actors, whether they are corrupted insiders or foreign intelligence services (FIS), to quickly steal and transfer massive quantities of data while remaining anonymous and hard to detect.”

The US counterintelligence and security agency predicts the US can expect continued attempts to collect its intellectual property. Foreign attempts will be a persistent threat to US economic security.'

Erin is the managing editor of Advisen’s Front Page News. She has been covering property-casualty insurance since 2000. Previously, Erin served as editor-in-chief of The Standard, New England’s Insurance Weekly. Erin is based in Boston, Mass. Contact Erin at [email protected].