Smart ideas for protecting intellectual property

Hackers and corporate thieves have helped make information security a topic that can’t be overlooked, especially in competitive fields like electronics. In North America, where many printed circuit board manufacturers target markets like defense and early prototyping, security is more critical than in areas that make high volume throw-away products.

For years, the two leading standards relevant to this industry have been ISO 27001, which establishes the parameters required for an information security management system and a companion document, ISO 27002, which outlines the best practices for companies that want to be certified as compliant.

“The standards provide a good base for companies that want to make sure that all the proprietary information they need to safeguard is protected,” said Duane Reeves, president of Gateway Security.

Now these ISO standards are being augmented with IPC-1071, Best Industry Practices for Intellectual Property Protection in Printed Board Manufacturing. Released last year, it focuses on the requirements of circuit board manufacturers.

One key element is that the data held by printed circuit board manufacturers is that the IP is often not owned by the board manufacturers themselves. Customers in competitive fields like defense and telecommunications need to know that their files aren’t going to be seen by anyone that doesn’t have authorized access.

“IPC has focused on best practices for the printed circuit board industry, it’s very specific to this industry, focusing on the large amount of data that board manufacturers hold for their customer’s products,” said Fern Abrams, IPC director of government relations and environmental policy.

Developed as a high-level roadmap to best industry practices for printed board manufacturers, IPC-1071 addresses physical and information security, employee data access, computer networks, destruction of scrap material and other important issues. It focuses on protection of the inherent IP designed into the printed board, from the customer to the printed board manufacturer. A certification program for IPC-1071 is in the works.

Reeves said that the standards address a broad range of security issues, from those that are fairly obvious to those that may not be considered by those who don’t take the time to fully analyze the many risks. “There are details like the disposal of equipment. Many printers have hard disk drives, people don’t realize that there’s a lot of data stored on them. Unless the drive is destroyed or the data is erased, anyone who gets that printer could potentially see crucial information,” he said.

One Comment

  1. Posted February 25, 2012 at 10:18 am | Permalink

    It’s really China on who you have to worry about with Intellectual property. They’ve stolen a lot lately and it’s sad how no one does anything about it.

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