Industrial Espionage : Espionage between professionals has always existed, even in the simplest professions. The shopkeeper would spy on the opposite man if he was closed on Sunday so that he could open.
When my father would send me out at night for cigarettes (2 drachmas for 8 cigarettes) I would go to the distant grocery store because on the way back I would imitate the dudes of the time, sometimes putting it in my ear, sometimes in my mouth. The shopkeeper would ask me if the last one was closed so he could stay open late to get more sales.
In addition to fair and unfair competition, in recent years in Greece, in Greece of globalisation, big business and technology, industrial espionage is on the increase. Competition, fear of collapse but also the hope that a company will grow, become viable ,merge or sell are the reasons why people resort to it.
Clearly the collection-analysis-utilisation and transfer of information has changed. There are no longer pigeons , smoke signals and messengers , but microchips, usb, cryptography, satellites, secure codes , keyloggers and high tech audiovisual signals.
Industrial espionage is done by external and internal sources.
External sources include the media, printed material, conferences, social events, presentations and the internet. Several times on websites we see (product sold out-immediately available-new delivery-delivery in such a time-discount).
The company workers union is well informed of strikes ,stoppages, protests and discussions. That is where much of the information is drawn from.
Internal sources and more dangerous, because as a rule the castles from within fall, is inside the company some manager or ordinary employee , without a necessary condition of financial benefit. The motive may be emotional, patriotic, ideological, a relationship of dependence or enmity towards the company( etc.).
Another way is to plant a spy in the company with an employee relationship ,who has access to the files and records, photographs, intercepts information.
What do competitors want to know?
The information requested is appropriate to the purpose. Whether it is a competition, acquisition or merger.
When it is a merger or takeover financial information, financial openings- outstanding, active contracts litigation, turnover ,profits ,debts are of interest . If the credit institution or financier is still supporting the company, if other proposals have been made, are some of the information that give strength to the negotiation.
When it comes to competition, of interest are the long-term strategy, investment plans , acquisitions, mergers, new equipment, relocation, information about branches, agents, new products, contacts with future partners, the operation of the competing company, recruitment of executives-staff, ways of storage-distribution , points of sale of goods, new products and others. Also customer lists, potential customers-contracts, contracts and prices. Consistent customers – bad debtors, agents, suppliers.
Spies have almost all major chains and are updated daily on competitors and new products , offers, customers, customer quality and consumer behaviour.
There are ways to protect a company. Companies should secure their data, there should be classifications, assignments of specific responsibilities with tiered safeguards and barriers so that if there is access or intrusion to sensitive files it is limited to one scale and not to the image of the whole company. This is achieved by installing anti-intrusive software, systematic electronic auditing in management offices-decision-making areas-laboratories and communications.
Also the destruction of documents, even those we consider to be of no importance.
Deny access to the servers and the telephone switchboard. The maintainer should be controllable and not whoever he thinks he knows or we think we know. Cleaning and repair crews to be supervised by the security supervisor. Entrance and exit should be controlled for staff, customers and visitors and recorded. News releases and interviews coming out of the company to be controlled and careful. Finally it is very useful to leak misleading information to competitors.
In 2010, at a ball held by a company in a nightclub, an executive, wanting to impress the staff, revealed that the new product to hit the market would be ready in 30 days. He got a lot of applause. As a result, the competitor company was able to release it in 10 days in the market in a jubilant manner.
Finally I want to add that there are several companies that without being shielded spy on rivals and destroy themselves. Because if you get a reliable information it is good, if you get a misleading one it is disastrous.
Industrial Espionage Published in the online journal se-skepseis.gr
Detective Pelekasis Nikos and Associates.