July 27, 2005 Security-related firms are enjoying a surge in business recently after reports over the weekend about a government spy agency's monitoring of prominent citizens caused more companies to worry about corporate espionage.

Security companies had expected to generate about 10 billion won ($9.7 million) in sales this year, but thanks to the recent wiretapping case involving Hong Seok-hyun, the ambassador to the United States, and Samsung Group executive Lee Hak-soo, they expect sales to jump 20 to 30 percent over their estimate as more companies request sweeps of their offices.

S1 Corp., Kosses Co., Korea TSCM Co. and Dokscom were among the security firms that said the number of people wanting a search of their offices for eavesdropping devices has more than doubled recently.
A machinery component manufacturer asked a security company yesterday to detect whether tapping devices are set in chief executive's and executives' rooms.

"We have doubted whether the conversations on company strategies were overheard by rival companies, but after the recent eavesdropping case, we decided to detect whether there is a bug in the office," an official at the manufacturer said.

The corporate clients want security companies to check both their offices and their phones for possible bugs. "After the recent eavesdropping case, people seem to worry that their private conversations could be overheard as well as their phone conversations," said an official at a security company. He said that one of its corporate clients was so afraid of being overheard by rivals that it used an assumed name when making a reservation for a business meeting at a hotel. Some people are even seeking to buy a portable compact detector that allows them to detect bugs wherever they go.

But the constant insecurity over being overheard results in a huge expense in both time and money. Security companies say that it takes an entire day for three experts to detect whether a tapping device is installed in the offices of the chief executive, secretaries and executives and in meeting rooms where important conversations are held. The sweep holds up decision-making at a company during that time.