Corporate espionage is not new. Since the beginning of business, unscrupulous competitors have tried to steal trade secrets and proprietary information. They have used whatever technology was current at the time and now, with computers who knows where the limits will be or what will be next.
International Investigators computer forensics experts regularly provide computer forensics consulting to organizations and businesses. We have been active in this field for years and cannot recall every case, but we do recall the differences and nuances between one computer investigation and another computer forensic investigation, because that is where we see changes and how we stay on top of what the bad guys are trying that is new.
In a recent New York Times opinion piece, Eamon Javers made a point that really struck me. He said:
Technology has changed the volume of information spies can purloin from corporate files, as well as the types of attacks possible from a distance. But the principle remains the same: spying is often easier than conducting one’s own research and development.
Mr. Javers was relating his comments not only to the past but to the current worry in Washington regarding corporate espionage and China’s business perspective. The point he makes applies to all business and organizations. And my takeaway is that with the concentrated efforts to cut costs and improve the bottom line amidst economic woes worldwide, corporate espionage is not going away and, in fact, may be even more attractive to some.
With a certified computer examiner available, attorneys whose clients have concerns can pursue suspected malefactors at play. Disloyal employees warrant computer investigations. It’s not just suspect employees, in fact, many organizations routinely conduct a computer forensic examination when an employee leaves or is terminated.
Covert surveillance abilities – spyware - can be put in place through the computer. Although there is still the instance of bad guy planting a surveillance bug, spyware installed through the Internet is becoming more the norm. Spyware somewhere in an organization’s intranet or on specific computers can gather more confidential or damaging data. An infected email or image opened inadvertently does the trick and no one knows – until a computer forensic analysis is completed. The process acts as a spyware detector and then the computer forensic investigator handles the spyware removal.
Organizations have to be aware of the possibility of covert surveillance and put in place proactive policies and procedures. It won’t prevent every occurrence, but it could make it more difficult and with computer forensics experts like International Investigators available, the damage can be ameliorated.
-T. Wilcox, CEO, International Investigators