“There is a lot of information available out there…the key is to match a client who understands the value of information and an intelligence firm that has the wherewithal to go out and get it.” – Mike Baker
Societies have always played catch-up to sophisticated criminal enterprises. This has been the norm from the industrial to the information revolutions. From the days when Allan Pinkerton revolutionized the detective role in business, as he became the first practitioner to help major companies protect their assets and information through an extensive civil intelligence network. Today the protection of information is crucial to all companies participating in the global economy. The effective application of information in its many variations can increase or destroy value for a company. Sophisticated criminal networks are in a constant prowl for information that can be effectively applied in schemes from counterfeiting to stock manipulation. A whole industry has also sprouted around the acquisition and protection of business critical information. A high stakes game is played around the world as teams of spy attempt to steal information that would give then an advantage on the market while the adversaries attempt to keep it from falling in their hands. The lines are so blurred that even criminal actions are difficult to decipher. It is quite easy, however to see the impact the theft of proprietary have on the market valuation for many companies at the loosing end on this trend. That is the reason why many internal and contract intelligence units have taken afoot inside many of the most recognized names in global business.
The risk of being targeted by espionage campaigns is very real for companies leveraging market dynamics by outsourcing critical business operations around the world. They are not only the targets of government sponsored intelligence collection campaigns, but also by private intelligence operators who are also busy at work with operations of their own. There are countermeasures to espionage and information theft. Companies can start by evaluating how vulnerable the physical protection to their information sources really is. Start by limiting access to your facilities and information networks. Also recognizing and classifying proprietary information and placing vulnerable data in protected areas are good practices to implement. The more mature organizations also conduct information theft exercises to test their readiness and information theft prevention plans. If you suspect your company may be the target of espionage, I urge you to adapt some of these strategies; your shareholders would be grateful.