According to a recent article on CNN, the head of the FBI’s counterintelligence division, Randall Coleman said that the bureau has seen a 53% increase in economic espionage cases. To warn and educate industry leaders, the FBI has launched a nationwide campaign.
In the article, Bill Evanina, head of the National Counterintelligence and Security Center, said, “Economic security is national security.” There is growing evidence of threats from several different nations, which is part of the concern from the government agencies.
Three scenarios highlight the types of situations of corporate espionage:
- Insider Threats. This is a situation where individuals who are familiar with the inner workings of a company or products are recruited by outside organizations. Sometimes these individuals actually “spy” on the company and continue on as employees. Other times, high level employees suddenly quit and will not divulge where they are going. Generally there are large amounts of cash exchanged.
- Digital Espionage. Spear phishing attempts are common in which an email or link appears to be legitimate, but actually is an attempt to get the recipient to offer up personal or proprietary information. In addition to the phishing, malware or spyware embedded on email is often sent to employees in an organization. When opened, spyware is installed that can transfer data or actually use computers to transmit audio or visual recordings from inside an organization without anyone being aware they are being spied upon.
- It’s not just dumpster diving. For instance, seeds from test fields can be physically stolen. The money spent on the research and development is lost when competitors obtain such proprietary samples. In another case, people posing as part of a cleaning crew were caught taking pictures of equipment and files in a manufacturing plant.
- Through computer forensics analysis, spyware detectors and spyware removal, our computer forensic investigators have secured facilities for manufacturers and design teams.
- Counterintelligence services or Technical Surveillance Countermeasures (TSCM), commonly referred to as “bug sweeps” are able to locate listening devices. Video surveillance detection is also possible with electronic spy detection A hidden camera detector reveals those spy eyes in places where you don’t want them.
- Then, of course, through a proactive installation of electronic surveillance cameras and audio listening devices, organizations are able to begin to protect themselves.
No company or organization is 100% safe from unscrupulous competitors. It doesn’t matter how large or small a business is, either. If there is information or products that can be valuable in the marketplace, someone could want it and you can be victimized.
-T. Wilcox, CEO, International Investigators