The object of protection: personal data, trade secrets, confidential information

When talking about cybersecurity and information security, it is therefore necessary to think about possible measures to limit the risk of cyber attacks and security incidents

When we talk about information security and cybersecurity, what do we want to protect?

The question is far from rhetorical: only if we are aware of what information we want to protect, can we select the appropriate measures and safeguards and achieve an optimal level of protection.

There are many classifications of information that can be protected; however, it is possible to identify certain categories of information that are particularly sensitive from a security perspective: personal data, trade secrets and other confidential information.

“Any information relating to an identified or identifiable natural person”. A natural person shall be regarded as identifiable when his or her identity can be traced “directly or indirectly, by reference in particular to an identifier such as a name, an identification number, location data, an online identifier or to one or more factors specific to his or her physical, physiological, genetic, mental, economic, cultural or social identity”.

Business information and technical-industrial experience, including commercial information, subject to the legitimate control of the holder. Such information, to be protectable, in addition to being secret and having economic value as such, must be subject to adequate security measures to maintain its confidentiality.

  • Competitiveness: protecting corporate information assets as trade secrets has a positive image return for the company, in terms of increased reliability in the eyes of business partners, with a consequent competitive advantage over competitors in the market.
  • Legal protection: the owner of trade secrets can avail himself of the same protections – and request the application of the same sanctions – granted by the IPC to registered industrial property rights (patents, trade marks and registered designs).
  • Increase in corporate value: trade secrets are to all intents and purposes a corporate asset that can be enhanced in the context of extraordinary transactions (e.g., mergers and acquisitions), generating significant capital gains.
  • Scalability: many of the security measures taken to protect trade secrets are also suitable to adequately protect the security of corporate IT networks (cybersecurity) and personal data (GDPR).

All confidential information that does not qualify for protection as a trade secret but is not generally known to people other than the holder is also protectable against unfair competition conduct.