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Manufacturing and Business Data Protection: Guarding Your Supply Chain

The cloud has been a tremendous benefit to manufacturers, but it has also brought certain risks — particularly in the realm of data loss protection. Every time you send proprietary data to someone, there’s a chance of it being leaked or intercepted by a 3rd party. To cope with the risks, manufacturers need business data protection throughout the supply chain — from design through finished product.

Business Data Protection and the Modern Supply Chain

To understand the risk, imagine an American company designing and manufacturing an appliance — let’s say an LED lighting fixture. The company starts by brainstorming in-house. Different teams research consumers and competitors, sketch designs, research materials and so on. Specifications are sent to a third party, which manufactures a few prototypes. There are multiple options that are critiqued and ruled out. Other 3rd parties develop hardware and software to wirelessly control color balance and brightness, refine the lens to scatter light more naturally and so on.

Once the design is finalized, its offshored for manufacturing. The electronics are manufactured in one plant, the body in another, and screws and other off-the-shelf components are sourced from a distributor. Then it’s all shipped back to the U.S. for final assembling and testing.

There are dozens — perhaps hundreds — of links in the chain where the company shared intellectual property, and any one of them could compromise it. It could be a competitor intercepting an unencrypted email between design teams early on and getting a similar product to market faster.

It could be the offshoring provider intentionally leaking the product so that knock-offs can be built at a lower price. Even a parts invoice could allow a competitor to glimpse what you’re bringing to market, and undercut your position. Whatever role your company plays in the process, a lack of business data protection anywhere in the chain can hurt you — along with everyone else.

You Have to Protect Your Whole Supply Chain with Data-centric Security

Traditional business data protection measures are like walls around a particular agent, or a segment of the process. The designer might use a firewall to prevent hackers from accessing its database, or a secure portal to send requirements to the prototyping firm.

The problem is, modern business doesn’t take place within neat and predictable walls. If you have a hundred different people at a dozen different organizations involved, you could easily have tens of thousands of different emails flying across continents, any one of which could compromise IP or other sensitive data. The only way to protect all this business data is for manufacturing security to focus on the data itself.

Data-centric encryption improves business data protection by scrambling each piece of data, using a secret code called the encryption key. Virtru Pro encrypts the data before it leaves the sender’s computer, and only decrypts it again once it reaches the recipient.

The sender retains control of the key, and can revoke it at any time, minimizing the risks of exposure. You can track who has opened an email or viewed a document with read receipts, disable forwarding and even prevent unauthorized downloading and copying with virtru PDF watermark. And because Virtru works with existing email accounts, it can provide business data protection throughout your supply chain without disrupting workflow.

Contact us to find out how Virtru promotes manufacturing security, or learn more from the resources below:

How to Protect Intellectual Property With a PDF Watermark
IP Encryption for Emails and Files
Next Level Data Loss Prevention Tools: Beyond the Perimeter

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