Different Types of Espionage

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Espionage is defined as the act or practice of spying.1 The term ‘industrial espionage’ , also known as ‘corporate espionage’ or ‘cyber espionage’, is the act of stealing trade secrets through the removal, duplicating or recording of highly confidential or valuable information in order to gain a competitive advantage. It is defined as the use of illicit means by more aggressive competitors to disrupt their rival’s operations or gain access to their sensitive information for a better competitive edge.2 While industrial espionage involves the theft of information for commercial purposes, which is obviously illegal, competitive intelligence is the legal gathering of information through conventional practices such as picking up scrap information through attending trade shows or through sources readily available i.e. corporate publications, patent filings and websites.3 Trade secrets are a form of intellectual property thus industrial espionage is most commonly linked with technology-heavy industries, especially in the computer and auto sectors where a great deal of money is splurged on research and development since technological change in this modern era has become a growing importance to business performance.
This acquisition of confidential or proprietary information undercuts profit potential, market share, undermine negotiations, or may even cause bankruptcy of the targeted company.4 The perpetrators of industrial espionage usually involves the employees, contractors or foreign intelligence. For example, a perpetrating company may pay (or bribe) the employees of the target company in exchange of confidential documents. There are also freelance employees who steal documents and files and sell it to anyone who may think of the i...

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... have to be surreptitious since much information is readily available i.e. the internet. Firms and individuals can also simply request for general information through the phone or e-mail or even approach foreign companies as potential business partners in hopes of gaining access through business relationships.58 Corporate espionage is undoubtedly a growing threat for organizations and not much can be done since intellectual property is intangible. The best proven weapon against this cybercrime is to protect information assets well since an organization with a responsible attitude towards information security and proactive measures to implement it will find its forts strongly built.59 To quote Sun Tzu: “The ultimate in disposing one’s troops is to be without ascertainable shape. Then the most penetrating spies cannot pry in nor can the wise lay plans against you.60

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