corporate espionage prevention

Preventing Industrial Espionage

Industrial espionage is the act of obtaining or uncovering trade secrets from a rival manufacturer or firm, such as product information, business plans, client information, financial information or something else that can be used to its advantage. While illegal, it’s more widespread than you might think as firms work to gain competitive advantages over each other. In fact, according to a research report published in the Harvard Business Review, industrial espionage is often more effective than research and development for firms or nations.

Espionage (noun): The practice of using spies to illegally or unethically obtain information.

How common is industrial espionage? It’s hard to say, largely because cases of it go significantly unreported. This tends to be because most victims don’t want to risk the reputation damage that they’re likely to receive if it’s revealed they failed to have the proper security measures in place to prevent such an act from occurring. This can harm stock prices and lead to public distrust. Industrial espionage can also be hard to identify and difficult to find the guilty party and hold them accountable.

In this post, we’ll discuss how to prevent industrial espionage and how to ensure your trade secrets and intellectual property are properly safeguarded. Read on to learn more.

Industries Most At Risk of Industrial Espionage

Also known as “economic espionage” or “corporate espionage,” some of the sectors that are common targets of such deceitful practices include:

  • Energy and infrastructure
  • Automotive
  • Biotech
  • Financial institutions
  • Retail businesses
  • Computer hardware or IT firms
  • Technology
  • Aerospace
  • Public entities

Common Espionage Techniques

Spies can obtain confidential information in several ways. Some of the most popular means are as follows:

  • Cyber crimes: From hacking and malware to organizing comprehensive phishing campaigns, a cyber attack is defined as an unwelcome attempt to steal, expose or alter information by infiltrating a firm’s computer system.
  • Electronic eavesdropping: Broadly defined as intercepting conversations without the participant’s consent, electronic eavesdropping may also include intercepting frequencies that emit from office equipment. These frequencies can often extend beyond the walls of a building and may provide access to networks for anyone who may be “listening.”
  • Insider threat: Rogue employees are another threat. Often, competitors will attempt to bribe or blackmail employees at competing firms into delivering information or trade secrets. It’s worth noting that employees can also inadvertently commit corporate espionage, often via carelessness or curiosity.
  • Poor security: Competitors may find vulnerabilities in a firm’s security to gain access to networks and confidential data.

Safeguard Your Firm Against Espionage

Most firms have security systems in place to protect their business against corporate espionage. However, many often have vulnerabilities in these systems that may put them at risk. So how can you safeguard your firm against espionage? Here’s a look at some best practices to follow:

Conduct Regular Audits and Risk Assessments

You don’t know how at risk you are of falling victim to corporate espionage if you don’t properly assess your firm. Regular security audits and risk assessments can help evaluate your business – both from a security standpoint and to gauge how attractive any of your intellectual property or trade secrets may be to others. By assessing your security and determining your firm’s most valuable information, you can better put together a plan to safeguard it. It’s worth noting that security audits and risk assessments aren’t one-time acts. They should be regularly conducted to ensure your firm is staying proactive.

Have a Robust Employee Training Program in Place

In addition to establishing security policies for your employees and partners, it’s also important to empower your staff with information and knowledge to avoid becoming a victim of industrial espionage. The people who work for you are crucial to keeping your firm’s data and trade secrets secure, especially when you factor in the many ways wrongdoers can gain information. Conducting regular training and educating your people about potential risks can help protect your firm – and its data.

Invest in the Right Security Solutions

As we said at the top of this section, many firms already have network security programs in place to help safeguard their data and trade secrets. Yet, there are still likely lapses in this overall plan. For instance, many espionage acts now occur due to electronic eavesdropping. Noting this, a risk management assessment may reveal that a firm should invest in RF protection, such as RF window film, RF shielding paint, RF foil or other products that prevent frequencies from extending beyond the walls of a building.

Other security solutions include taking a multi-layer approach to network and cybersecurity, implementing risk management platforms to protect against any insider threats and limiting the number of people at a firm that have access to confidential data.

Contact Signals Defense Today

For more information on how to safeguard your firm from industrial espionage and for information on RF protection, contact Signals Defense today.