The Eavesdropping Threat
Quarterly eavesdropping detection surveys...
...a standard business practice.
The current business climate is increasingly competitive. Many businesses are vying for the same customers, or to be the first in their field to bring a new or enhanced product to market. Many companies are having their very survival threatened by lawsuits. Companies are not even safe from their own employees, we commonly find eavesdropping being conducted by an ambitious employee seeking a more rapid path to promotion, or a disgruntled employee gathering company secrets in preparation of starting their own competing business.
Although industrial spying is unlawful, the rewards for procuring intelligence regarding the strategic plans, resources, products, pricing, customers, personnel, or legal affairs of a competitor often prove substantially more persuasive than concern over the risks involved in acquiring such information.
The security posture of businesses has been further complicated since the rise of capitalism in the republics of the former Soviet Union and in Eastern Europe. Agents of their oncefeared foreign intelligence services are no longer seeking intelligence to further national political aims, they are now emphasizing the gathering of business intelligence to assist their struggling economies. This adds a new dimension to the longtime business intelligence gathering activities of myriad domestic and foreign corporations, and the governments of Israel, Japan, France, Argentina, Canada, Great Britian, Sweden, Switzerland, India, China, Taiwan, North Korea, South Korea, and Russia.
A 1992 study conducted by the American Society for Industrial Security (ASIS) found theft of propietary information had risen 260% since 1985. In 1993 the FBI reported its industrial espionage caseload had jumped from ten to five hundred open cases. Any company in a business with foreign competition is a target for corporate espionage. R. James Woolsey, while Director of Central Intelligence, reported economics had become the hottest current topic in intelligence. The attitude of many nations, including his own, was explicitly stated by Pierre Marcon, former head of the French Direction Generale de la Securite Exterieure (DGSE), who said in an interview "In economics we are competitors, not allies."
Electronic spying is not confined to government agents. The equipment required for wiretapping and electronic eavesdropping is available to anyone through advertisements in the back pages of electronics magazines; and very sophisticated bugs can be constructed by anyone with a rudimentary knowledge of electronics, with components obtained from any Radio Shack store.
Favorite targets of industrial spies are technology, trade secrets, business plans, customer lists, and perhaps most damaging, pricing data. Any medium over which this data is transmitted, or location in which it is discussed, is vulnerable. We have found the preferred targets of industrial spies are often fax machines. These are especially attractive for intelligence gathering because information which was discussed over an extended period, possibly in multiple locations, is conveniently condensed and readily available in hardcopy form.
With the potential for, and severe consequences of, information loss, prudent business and professional leaders are taking the precautions necessary to safeguard their sensitive and proprietary information.
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