Corporate Espionage is the practice of stealing and unauthorized revealing of corporate data to other companies, government or individuals.
Competitor companies, individuals tracing information for their own financial profit are mainly involved in corporate espionage. Employees fail to build a lasting and loyal rapport with their employers and thus steal information. But unsatisfied employees aren’t the only ones responsible for these. Many of the corporate espionage goes undetected for decades. This is mainly to achieve personal and financial gains.
Though financial data is always the most wanted information other data are also at risk of espionage. Customer lists, marketing information, merger and acquisition plans, access to emails, passwords, and human resource records are some of the most commonly stolen data apart from financial information from banks. Loss of non-financial data can ultimately in some way lead to financial losses.
Managers and business owners fail to understand the risks posed by small time workers seeking out for information that might adversely impact their business. Not complying with protection laws can lead to legal consequences and companies can face serious financial damage if they fail to protect confidential information.
Due to a significant increase in the motivation for employees to sell sensitive information, criminal entities performing corporate espionage are thriving. This paradigm shift results from decreased job security and redundancies. Under this threat and pressure and in order to maintain financial stability employees commit corporate espionage. Discontented workers and former employees are more likely to enter into such activities.
Technological progress has boosted the opportunities for employees to become a part of direct corporate espionage. For example, huge amounts of confidential corporate information can be stolen by downloading it into portable drives, information can be intercepted and stolen due to the widespread use of emails, mobile devices turn out to be a tool for espionage due to the widely available mobile spy software. Using this software, conversations can be listened to, text messages can be viewed and location of the phone can be tracked.
In recent years, levels of corporate espionage have increased significantly across different industry sectors. Over the decade, technological bloom and short-termed workforce have contributed to the constant rise in espionage levels. Apart from these, an increase in competition between firms, rise in work pressure and cost cutting measures have also been major players for the intense proliferation of espionage.
If you think about the recent cases, espionage has occurred mainly due to weakness in organizational security. Very few companies attempt to prevent corporate espionage as they tend to believe that it’s an attack that will never hit them.
How It Is Done
Espionage techniques implemented through social media platform:
- Identity theft using a wide variety of social engineering intelligence schemes
- Creating a fake profile for malicious purposes or to remain anonymous
- Building a large number of fake profiles which is managed by machines with which it’s easy to interact with real users on a large scale
Ways to Tackle It
Many corporations are hiring ex-military and government agents trained in the art of spying to gather intelligence techniques advantage over their competitors. They head new company divisions and focus on spying and obtaining information from competitors disguised as competitive intelligence.
Proactive steps must be taken to assess risk and implement the right endpoint security measures to protect corporate systems and data from suspicious and malicious breaches. This is one of the best ways by which organizations can remain profitable. Few other methods to follow:
- Control and monitor downloading of confidential data
- Limit the usage of USB, hard drives, and personal e-mails
- Ensure that employees update their password regularly
- Limit the accessibility of sensitive data to limited and important employees only
- Undertake detailed audits of departing employees’ paper and electronic documents, in the presence of their manager and an IT staff
- Implement a clean desk policy and regularly check its progress
- Ensure employees access to corporate information is restricted after they leave the job
– Rini Thomas