If You Are In Business, You Are a Potential Target for Corporate EspionageWhat do you do in your leisure time? Watch football or motor racing? That’s all fun, right?

Don’t kid yourself. Major sports are major businesses and that means big money is at stake. And when big money is on the line, there are also people who will do anything to “win.”

For example, consider the recent “Deflate-gate” centered on footballs and Tom Brady. Now there is the Mercedes F-1 team suing a departing engineer for alleged data theft as he goes to join the competing Ferrari team.

Corporate espionage and employee theft is limitless. It is not limited by content, size of business or geography. It is limited only by the aspirations of the person or persons engaging in it.

  • Stealing confidential client lists – Clients are the lifeblood of every business – large or small. When a competitor can obtain client information, they can use it to target new business and get other information that will make it easier to get customers to change vendors.
  • Stealing confidential research and development data – Being the first to bring new products and services to the market is huge, especially in today’s technology market. So when one business can scoop the competition, the potential for sales to the market and to potential buyers of the business can turn a small business into a big money maker.
  • Stealing trade secrets or data – In competitive markets, knowing the recipe for the “secret sauce” or set up for a track is the difference between winning and losing. Losing customers and sponsors means losing money.
  • Stealing employees – How often do you hear “our people are our greatest asset”? When competitors pirate away key employees, their skills, ideas and knowledge go with them.

It’s not just competitors, but potential competitors, that engage in business espionage

There is also the issue of employees and theft as they decide to “go out on their own.” When an employee decides to start his own business, there is often an overlap between the time that decision is made and the time the employee hangs out his shingle. It is during that overlap time that crucial theft by employees takes place. They might not be stealing money, but they could be:

  • Using company resources for their own use – making copies, creating materials, developing structure and sourcing vendors
  • Compiling industry data – creating files and archives of industry-related data and reference material to take with them
  • Building client lists – using company data to identify potential clients for the new business; accessing confidential information to determine which clients are best and most likely to change vendors
  • Stealing trade secrets, research and development and other proprietary information – using their position as an insider to gather as much information and data to use to get an edge on their current employer as a competitor

How can you prove it?

An employee stealing from their company doesn’t mean the theft is monetary or physical products. And, most of the time, the evidence is right there on their desk – in their computer.

Using data mining software, can conduct a computer forensic investigation. The computer forensic analysis uncovers files, images, emails and video files that can be used as evidence to prove theft, even after the employee is gone from the company.

Contact for their computer forensic services if you discover a former employee has become a business competitor. Even if the files are thought to be deleted, chances are good that a certified computer examiner will be able to find them. Then you have the facts you need to protect your business.

-Brenda McGinley, CEO, All in Investigations, All in Investigations