More intellectual property theft, GM lose $40M of hybrid vehicles trade secrets to China industry

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A few years ago Intel had an employee walk out the door with their intellectual property and take it to AMD, Intel estimated the value of the information was close to $1 billion! Then there was the case of the IBM executive emailing trade secrets to HP, more recently Ford was hit by a worker taking 4000 confidential trade secret documents and using them to secure a new job with at least one Chinese car company.

Today news has been released that General Motors is the latest US company demonstrating a lack of control over trade secret information. Two ex-employee's have been charged with conspiring to steal trade secrets related to hybrid vehicles from General Motors to pass on to China's Chery Automobile Company. A court in Detroit has charged Sanshan Du and Yu Chin with conspiracy to possess trade secrets and unauthorized possession of trade secrets which can carry a penalty of up to 10 years imprisonment and a $250,000 fine.

Du is accused of copying thousands of GM documents to an external hard drive five days after the automaker offered her a severance agreement in January 2005. General Motors have estimated the value of the stolen information to be about $40 million.

It is quite shocking that these high profile incidents continue to happen when the technology is available which would render the possession of these documents useless, even when someone has copied them to a DVD and sent them to China. Oracle IRM would've ensured that as soon as these employee's had left the company, access to the documents is no longer possible. More importantly, sending these documents to illegitimate parties is a waste of time, only authorized users have the ability to gain access to the information. As a CIO once said to me, "There is no point spending all the security budget on protecting access to the applications, VPN and file shares with identity management technologies when the greater risk is the employee leaving the company who spent the last 2 weeks copying every sensitive document they could to a DVD".

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