Posted on November 29th, 2007 No comments
Corporate Espionage is a growing problem and threat to more companies than you probably think! Below I will dispense some information every business owner should know!
What Is Corporate Espionage?
Espionage is the practice of obtaining information about an organization that is considered secret and confidential without the permission of the information holder themselves. In other words… spying. Espionage involves accessing the location where the information is actually stored- As in entering an office building to try and seek out the company’s methods and tactics or gaining unauthorized access to a company computer. It also involves contacting the people who know the desired information and trying to get them to slowly divulge it.
How Dangerous Is It?
Corporate Espionage is a serious risk to any business that depends on information. Any ‘spy’ who is targeting a company is seeking inside information that the company depends on for its success. If that outsider is able to gain access to that information, then the company no longer has a leg up on competition, it levels the playing field. To say the very least…
Some examples of information that is often sought after:
• Client List – any list of current and past clients, their contact information, and what products and services they purchased from you.
• Supplier Agreements – information that lets others know what kind of agreements you hold with your suppliers, your relationship with them, and what you are or plan to be using them for.
• Personal Records – records indicating spending habits, income, bank balances and account numbers, commonly called phone numbers, credit card accounts, ect.
• Research Documents – any research history that can help foretell where you plan to take the company in the next few years.
• Prototype Plans – plans, paper work, contracts, or actual physical prototypes of a new product or service you plan to offer.
• A few other examples include : patents, pricing strategies, source code, and unique manufacturing and technological operations.
Any of the above information could be greatly beneficial to the unauthorized individual who has stolen it from you. It can lead to devastating financial effects to a company causing them to lose clients and money to their untrustworthy competitor. The information could also be used for scams, credit card fraud, and blackmail.
Much to the company’s own downfall, security for this coveted information is often an afterthought. Most corporations are developing new technologies faster than they can protect them. Very few companies are spending the time and money to implement the hardware, software, and services required to monitor and protect their information.
How Does It Happen And How Can I Fight It?
Corporate Espionage can happen in a number of ways, but basically it’s any breach of security in your company. Methods range from computer hacking, theft, and intimidation, to dumpster diving and personnel impersonations.
A few basic things you can do to protect yourself:
1. Make employees aware of ‘Social Engineering Ploys.’ Make sure they are familiar with the tactics so they can recognize it when something happens. Set up a procedure for them to follow in the event they think they are a target of a social engineering attack.
2. Make sure you have sufficient physical building security. Your office building houses your employees, files, computers, servers, and all your other valuable information and sources. Invest in video surveillance and make sure it gets checked often.
3. Keep the latest security software on your computers and servers at all times. These are common points of attack for any corporation so it’s key to keep them locked up.
Despite the digital world we live in, dumpster diving is the most common method used to obtain confidential data without the information owner finding out. It’s a messy and primitive method, but is very successful in acquiring trade secrets. But how can that be? Someone can just take your information right out of your garbage can? Yes, dumpster diving is disgusting and totally legal. Once you discard it onto a public street for garbage pickup, it’s totally fair game. Dumpster Divers have been successful in obtaining company phone books, organization charts, memos, company policy manuals, meeting calendars, system manuals, login names and passwords, source code, disks and tapes and much more.
So what can you do?
Use a shredding company! Shred EVERYTHING! No longer is just paper print outs your biggest liability, CD’s, DVD’s, hard drives, servers are all a huge threat to you if they land in the wrong hands. Seek a company who has the ability to successfully destroy any and all confidential matter.
Companies such as MicroShred (http://www.microshred.com) can render any confidential material totally unreadable. Unlike your typical shredder which leaves paper in pieces that potentially can be put back together, MicroShred uses locked confidential boxes that are dumped into a shredder and destroyed. CD’s, uniforms, labels, ID access cards, hard drives… it all can be destroyed!