On October 1, 2018, FBI Director Christopher Wray gave a speech at the National Association of Corporate Directors Global Board Leaders Summit titled “The FBI and Corporate Directors: Working Together to Keep Companies Safe from Cyber Crime,” during which he stressed that companies need to take proactive steps to protect their innovations and assets, including collaborating with law enforcement.

Wray explained that the FBI is increasingly focused on a variety of threats to corporate trade secrets and technologies, “from multinational cyber syndicates and insider treats to hacktivists.” He stressed that, while “[e]very company is a target,” many companies do not realize that they need to pay better attention to who has access to their proprietary information, including what access is given to vendors, contractors, the supply chain, and even employees. He explained: “We’re seeing more incidents of employees taking proprietary information when they’re about to be on the job market. And we’re seeing business competitors—and foreign governments—seeking to place spies into rival companies to gain access to information.”

To try to combat the growing threat companies are facing, Wray suggested that board members should work with executive management to develop a clear information security plan focused on protecting the company’s most important information. He also recommended reaching out to the FBI early if a breach or theft incident does occur. He further recommended that companies consider building relationships with federal agencies—and taking in-house precautions—before any incident occurs. He noted: “The best time to patch the roof is when the sun is shining.”

TIP: Companies need to take proactive measures both before and after a data security incident occurs—whether a data breach or theft of trade secrets by an insider—which can include potentially reaching out to law enforcement, who has resources to assist companies with protecting their assets.