EWI & Associates

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Corporate Spies have sights on your firm's information

You've got a paper shredder, and you close the door to private meetings. But what else are you doing to protect your firm's vital information? In these days of high stakes and heavy litigation, it
pays to be paranoid. Your walls could have ears, your phones could be bugged, and your employees could have a stake in leaking your secrets. Corporate espionage is a real and growing threat, and there are plenty of spies for hire willing to use any means necessary – legal or not -- to obtain valuable information for their clients. According to a report from the Office of the National Counterintelligence Executive, economic espionage cost from $100-$250 billion a year in lost sales in the year 2000. The U.S. Chamber of Commerce estimates corporate espionage costs U.S. shareholders $25 billion in intellectual property losses each year.
What could it cost you?

Both allies and adversaries sponsor espionage in an effort to snare technological data, and financial and commercial information that will give them an edge. They continue to become ever more innovative in their tactics. Spies collect information through direct requests, solicitation of services, visits and exploitation of joint ventures. Use of the Internet to gather data, through e-mails and chat room, has risen dramatically. Many law firms and companies are careless when it comes to safe guarding valuable information. Law firms especially need to examine this type of security concern because it is not just the firms' information; it's their clients' as well.

Every time information leaves the office, whether it's taken home on a laptop, discussed on the golf course or passed over cell phones, it becomes vulnerable to being intercepted. An immense amount of information could be obtained through your garbage, and cleaning crews, as well as others, could be delivering it right to your adversary. It only takes a second for someone posing as maintenance personnel to hide a microphone in your boardroom, picking up discussions on legal strategy, research and development, or mergers in the works. Cheap and very effective electronic listening devices are easily obtainable via the Internet to anyone wanting to eavesdrop on your classified information.

The first step in shoring up your company's information is to determine exactly what needs to be protected or highly classified. Not everything requires the same level of security.

You may not have the time or training to home in on information security, but EWI does.

EWI can do Technical Surveillance Countermeasures surveys to ensure the continued security of your office and help you develop information security policies. Don't wait until it's too late.

Here are a few ways to protect against corporate espionage:

  • Do background checks on employees, temporary employees and cleaning crews. Don't assume they are working on your behalf. Maintenance crews can easily plant listening devices, and a computer technician could plant a Trojan horse in your system.
  • Encrypt sensitive computer files.
  • Beware of using your laptop in public places.
  • Cell phones should always be considered un-secure
  • Shred all paper documents before trashing them.
  • Make sure your employees are trained as to how to treat sensitive information. They are the first targets for corporate spies.
  • Have Technical Surveillance Countermeasures Surveys conducted often to ensure that your location does not have electronic listening devices present.
  • Have boardrooms, or other sensitive meeting areas, checked and secured for electronic devices prior to important meetings.
  • Have your phones and phone lines checked often.