Industrial Spying research paper:
Thesis Statement: Corporations are becoming aware of the importance of knowing more about the enemy, and one way for survival is by gaining more information through industrial spying.
I-The criminal action of industrial spying
A-The need for industrial spying
B-The increase of spying in the 1990s
C-The fields of industrial spying
II-The methods of industrial spying
B-Intelligence technology methods
III-The Solutions for industrial spying
A-Enacting strict laws
B-Defining the criminality of industrial spying
C-Protecting oneself against spying
D-Warning against sexual entrapment
Spying and the use of intelligence units are usually related to states and governments. In today’s world, however, spying is still a booming business, except that the employers have changed. This time, it is large corporations who are paying for spies and intelligence personnel to gather and analyze information about competitors and to provide a clear picture of what the next step of the competitor could be. Corporations are finally becoming aware of the importance of knowing more about the enemy, and one way for survival is by acquiring more information through industrial spying.
Industrial spying is indeed a booming business as the rate of industrial spying crimes has increased by more than 100% between 1995 and 1996 (Pasternak & Witkin 45).
In 1992, the Canadian Security and Intelligence Service (CSIS) conducted a survey on Canadian corporations to measure the ratio of companies falling victims to industrial spying. The survey that covered 500 companies showed that at least one of four companies was a victim of industrial spying (Morris 35). In the US, on the other hand, IBM finally announced that for years it had been the victim of industrial spying that cost it millions of dollars (Moris 35).
The methods through which industrial spying is taking place range from classical means to very unusual means that have been recently developed. Classic means include the messing in the competitor’s garbage looking for carelessly disposed documents or sheets, stealing documents from safes, bribing insiders to get information for the perpetrator, snooping in under cover in the shoes of journalist, a marketing researcher or even a student doing his graduate study (Moris 35).
Other classical methods may not even include criminal factors although they are still classified as spying, such as eavesdropping on the competitor’s conversations in the street or in a restaurant. However, spies do not usually depend on these means as much as they prefer to use the intelligence technology available in the markets today. These methods include bugging walls, offices and bedrooms, not to mention the hacking of company computers through the Internet. With the help of fast communication such as faxes, cellular phones and the Internet, industrial spying has become much easier than ever (Pasternak & Witkin 45).
One of the most infamous cases of industrial spying was recorded in 1996 when Boehringer Corporation filed a lawsuit against LifeScan Inc. which is owned by Johnson and Johnson. BC claimed that LifeScan personnel had been spying onto its conferences, stealing sensitive documents at conventions, and sending investigators in the shoes of job applicants (“Cloak and dagger in the lab” 1).
Cases such as this have increased dramatically in recent years, and this can be obvious from the fact that companies specialized in industrial spying are doubling their business every year. This has forced large companies in competitive industries to increase their spending on competitive intelligence and to develop solutions against industrial spying (Crock 4).
To fight industrial espionage, companies are advised to take a number of precautions. First of all, the company has a right to prohibit its employees to form a similar business using the company’s technology in a certain geographical area for a reasonable number of years (Pouliot 62). Companies are also advised to keep reminding their employees to destroy trash papers that contain important information, and to avoid talking in public about sensitive information or major issues concerning the business (Pouliot 62). Employees are also trained to know what to say and what not to say in front of strangers, especially researchers, journalists and students.
Some businesses are hoping that legal restrictions and the penalties that accompany industrial spying will eventually discourage spies. Indeed, in 1996, President Clinton backed up a legislation “making industrial espionage a federal crime carrying penalties of up to 15 years in jail and $10 million in fines” (Crock 2).
However, what most analysts believe is the most important strategy is to go on the offensive and spy on others before a company becomes a target for spies. At least this way, even if the competitor finds out about the plans of the company, the executives will know that such information has become known to the other side and will be able to develop a plan to deal with the situation (Crock 4).
Whether stricter laws will be decreed or not, and whether companies take all the precautions that can be, industrial espionage will continue. Spies will continue eavesdropping, chasing targets, searching for information in the press, on the Internet and in the trash bins. There is no other choice for companies that really want to survive because knowing what the competitor is planning to do next is inevitable for survival. The questions that will most likely arise as a result of industrial spying are mainly ethical and legal. Yet, such questions do not seem to deter companies, nor do they seem to concern those who are already profiting from the spying business.
“Cloak and dagger in the lab.” Business Week, CD-ROM, July 8, 1996: 1-2.
Crock, Stan. “How corporations snoop to conquer.” Business Week, CD-ROM, October 28, 1996: 1-5.
Morris, Nimo. “The growing risk for business.” Maclean’s, September 2, 1996: 35.
Pasternak, Douglas & Gordon Witkin. “The lure of the steal.” US News & World Report, March 4, 1996: 45-48.
Pouliot, Janine S. “closing the curtain on company secrets.” Nation’s Business, June 1996: 62.