Stolen Trade Secrets, the Lack of Encryption, and Self-Driving Cars

A complicated—and ultimately unnecessary—lawsuit is winding its way through the California courts this year, as Waymo and Uber clash over stolen trade secrets. Here are a couple of undisputed facts: a Waymo employee stole 14,000 documents from Waymo servers pertaining to self-driving car technologies, and Uber hired the former Waymo employee. Now Waymo accuses Uber of using those stolen documents, and wants the courts to shut down its self-driving car research. Unfortunately for Waymo, the courts ruled that the stolen documents don’t meet the standards for trade secrets—and that Uber can keep moving forward on self-driving car research.

This kind of corporate espionage crops up from time to time, but it doesn’t have to. Encrypting files is a good first step for protecting intellectual property—but it has to be the right kind of encryption. Persistent encryption refers to files that stay encrypted wherever they’re used, shared, or stored. If Waymo had used persistent encryption to protect the stolen documents, the files would have been encrypted even as they were copied from the Waymo servers to the employee’s personal hard drive. When the employee separated from Waymo, his access to the encryption key would have been revolved, and he would have been denied further access to the files. This could have saved Waymo not only the potential competitive problems with Uber, but also hundreds of thousands of dollars in legal fees.

Whether your company is a technology company with documented trade secrets, an oil and gas company with mapping data, or a manufacturing company with proprietary designs, keeping your organization’s information private is crucial for maintaining your competitive advantage and protecting your company's future. While perimeter security and identity solutions are necessary, it’s also vital that persistent, data-centric encryption is part of your security strategy. Find out how PKWARE’s Smartcrypt can protect your sensitive information from internal and external threats today.

Paul Ardoin

Paul Ardoin

Paul Ardoin, PKWARE's Senior Director of Product and Partner Marketing, has 20 years of experience in enterprise software marketing and public relations. Paul has led high-performing product marketing, strategic programs marketing, and technology partner teams for small startups as well as large multinational enterprises. An industry thought leader, he has spoken at security, financial, real estate, and human resources events around the world about the importance of putting critical business issues before technology. Paul has a bachelor’s degree in English from University of California, Santa Barbara.

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