Throughout the human history, espionage was one of the activities that have offered numerous advantages to warring parties, especially during World Wars. Usually, the term of spying is associated with military conflicts. The industrial espionage has always been the real billions game played yearly by some of the world greatest economic powers.

What is the industrial espionage?

Stolen information, with great economical value, carried out by one or more persons, whose purpose is the pursuit of one or more individuals or institutions or countries to find out their intentions or activities, to find out what it intends to do regarding industrial inventions and innovations, in order to inform a third party.

Industrial spies operate with information, which it is easily distorted or falsified; working with many uncertainties, this information needs several well checks and rechecks, which can lead, in time, at revealing the intentions of spies.

The purpose of industrial espionage

The purpose of these actions is to obtain information held by a company or enterprise, which allows it to launch products that ensure its supremacy for a specified period in a particular industrial segment. Diverted in favor of the third party, the processing of information would lead to similar quality products, and thus to obtain the advantageous market position of an entirely different company than the one that originally designed the product. Moreover, besides losses of billions of dollars, the image of the company is affected.

During crisis industrial espionage intensity increases

Being an activity promoted informally by most states aspiring to the title of world economic power, the industrial espionage is favored by the current economic context when, instead of investing large sums necessary to research, many top companies prefer to steal their direct competitor innovations. One of the major espionage scandals during crisis involves the most famous French companies – Renault. Three of the company’s executives were fired for fear of leaks on its programs to develop new electric models. French automaker Renault subsequently announced that vital technology secrets are safe, and the vehicle’s production will not be affected by the data related to the electric car program produced by an international spy. The fact is that this scandal prompted the French government to warn of a wider danger that might expose the French industry. French government sources indicated that Chinese intelligence services are investigating possible tracks for espionage related to Renault. The situation could also degenerate into a diplomatic dispute between France and China. Sources close to the investigation said that investigators did not find evidence to prove the allegations brought against three employees sacked by Renault. The prosecution was based on the discovery of foreign accounts showing that the three have obtained money to divulge confidential information.

Not only the car industry was affected by industrial espionage during crisis; also in the pharmaceutical industry were subject to spying actions. It is the case of the pharmaceutical company Bristol-Myers Squibb, whose former employee Shalin Jhaveri has stolen trade secrets, with intention of creating a similar pharmaceutical company in his home country, which would have been a direct competitor.

How companies can protect against industrial espionage?

From simple monitors to special adapters for jamming, companies specialized in information security uses a wide range of devices to prevent data leakage. Using bribery, informational spies pays the cleaning service staff to plant microphones in meeting rooms. Therefore, rooms are thoroughly checked, and people from the top management are monitored, including town meetings, when they are at home or in the car. The Internet connection highly developed in the digital era makes the data easier to steal (no longer need to be physically present in an office, laboratory or research institute where they want to steal information). Through fiber-optic cables, they have remote access to foreign IT systems and can copy enormous data flows. Therefore, improving the information protection system, it is a must to do action for all companies.

Certainly, a well-built defense against industrial spies would lead to better data protection. But this is not going to stop them in their actions to steal this valuable information. Dealing with a well organized defense, they will surely improve their attack features. In conclusion, which is the best method to stop the industrial espionage?