Corporate Espionage

January 7, 2009

Unfortunately, corporate espionage is big business. You may recall the snooping HP engaged in when snooping on rival Dell back in 2002. HP is not alone - Wal-Mart operates a massive employee surveillance program, sends out undercover operatives to infiltrate activist groups, and has a threat analysis team that regularly sifts through customer records. Steve Jobs, the CEO of Apple, is believed to have planted evidence of a fake product in order to ferret out a mole operating within the company. And at least two Canadian companies, Air Canada and drug maker Biovail have paid private investigators to rifle through others' garbage for evidence of wrongdoing. Last fall, lawyers for Toronto-based insurer Fairfax Financial reportedly tailed employees of a New York hedge fund that Fairfax accuses of trying to do it harm.

In the post-9/11 environment, the world is focused on security intelligence. But the world of protecting corporate and trade secrets is just as big, and the stakes, arguably, just as high - especially if you believe that the health of a national economy is fundamental to a nation's ability to defend itself. Companies are duty-bound to their shareholders to do everything legally possible to protect their assets, especially with corporate espionage on the rise. As a result, a huge private security industry, drawing from the ranks of retired police and intelligence officers, is growing to serve the needs of suspicious executives.

The question is, just where is the line between competitive intelligence and espionage? At what point does vigilance against spies and leakers - even practising aggressive defence against rivals in the name of cementing market share - become a threat in itself? The law is proving to be of little help in the matter since technological advances have fast-outpaced the courts. As recent history shows, corporate codes of ethics represent constantly shifting ground, where principles and guidelines are easily lost in the heat of battle, and where the line between smart business and malfeasance is defined by whether or not you get caught. "Some overzealous people are getting into areas that are unethical, and when the legal system catches up, will be illegal," says William Johnson, founder of the Business Espionage Controls & Countermeasures Association. "For the moment, there are a lot of grey areas out there." As technology gets more sophisticated, and with billions of dollars on the line, the temptations and ethical questions are only going to get more troubling.

How to Prevent Corporate Espionage?

There are a few ways to stop corporate espionage. The best and easiest way is tracking employees' cell phones. SPYERA is one tool you can place in your arsenal to give you almost omnipotent control over your mobile phones, the content on them and how (and with whom they are used).

SPYERA is a cloud-based employee monitoring system that allows a business to see exactly what their employees are doing on company-issued devices and estimates how productive they are based on the applications they use and their attendance levels. SPYERA works with iPhone, Android, and Blackberry phones. SPYERA requires no hardware or IT training and can be up and running in minutes.

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