International Procurement Services (Overseas) Ltd2014-12-01 11:35:06

FBI are "very concerned" about industrial espionage

A recent interview on San Antonio Channel 4 News with Christopher Combs of the San Antonio FBI s highlights that the FBI are "very concerned" about theft of trade secrets from US companies.

His interview was primarily talking about those US companies engaged in the multi-billion dollar "fracking" business in the Eagle Ford Shale in Texas but he also spoke about the threat to US organisations nationally.

"It's corporate espionage, there's no question about it," said Combs. "Foreign governments or foreign companies are looking for any competitive advantage. Whether it's the widget that you use to drill, or it's a process that you use to track inventory better. They're really looking at the company as a whole to find out every little thing that you do that makes you a better company on the world market."

Whist not mentioning specific incidents he outlined some of the scenarios being played out such as employees being targeted when they travel outside the country as well as so called "insiders" i.e. individuals being placed inside target companies with the specific purpose of engaging in espionage. Sometimes this process can take many years and would indicate the involvement of national intelligence agencies. Another threat mentioned is the disgruntled employee who can ‘go rogue,' and begin collecting and selling trade secrets to strike back at their employer. Then of course there is simple greed, the employee who sees the opportunity for a fast buck.

"It's not just the threats coming in from the outside, but what information is going from the inside out," Combs said.
He said Chinese companies are "aggressively" engaged in industrial espionage. However, the problem isn't limited to China. Companies with ties to governments that are U.S. allies are believed to be conducting espionage against innovative US firms as well.

But this is not just a US problem, it is global. According to the UK Centre for the Protection of National Infrastructure web site says: "The threat from espionage (spying) did not end with the collapse of Soviet communism in the early 1990s. The UK has been and remains a high-priority target for a number of countries looking to obtain information and technologies to help advance their own military, technological, political and economic interests."

According to Gerry Hall Managing Director Managing Director of International Procurement Services "The proliferation of GSM technology and devices means that insiders now have the technology available to them to listen-in on conversations in any part of any building that they have access to, even if only for a few minutes. Via GSM they can then listen to private conversations from anywhere in the world. This sort of technology is easily and cheaply available via the internet and can make a spy out of anyone."

He went on to say "Unless you have the right security policies, staff, procedures, training and equipment available to protect your business. There are a number of approaches available to safeguard your organisation from illicit eavesdropping. One approach is a "safe room". This is a selected room such as the board room, with the appropriate detection equipment permanently installed."

"Another route is to buy your own equipment and train your own staff in the use of the equipment. This gives you the flexibility to hold your meetings anywhere, from the board room to an office, meeting or hotel room, to a private residence. The last option is to employ an outside specialist sweep team to perform a thorough sweep of key meeting rooms, offices and phones as and when required."

"We have twenty-five years' experience supplying countermeasures equipment to government and corporate offices all over the world and have been performed operational sweeps over the same period. There is no substitute for the right equipment and the right expertise when it comes to protecting your intellectual property."

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