There are several possible reasons why the FBI has issued a public relations statement warning businesses to increase their confidentiality when dealing with customers. In fact, the recent leak of confidential information from a private database highlighting how many employees in one small company had been engaging in business relationships with clients was one of the first cases this summer filed under the umbrella of a federal investigation into business security. The general counsel for the company had recommended that all new employees be required to sign a confidentiality agreement in order to continue employment with the company. However, it was discovered that many current employees, as well as some previous employees, had already signed such agreements without fully disclosing their activities with clients. Such actions, according to the FBI, can lead to serious legal issues.
This particular case is only one of many that have recently drawn attention to the increase in business Espionage issues. Law enforcement agencies around the world are increasingly attempting to track down individuals engaged in business relationships with foreign intelligence services. The results of these investigations, however, have resulted in the imprisonment or detainment of several individuals, including at least one US citizen who admitted assisting a foreign espionage agency in its efforts to undermine the US economy. Other US citizens have been charged with conspiracy and other crimes related to assisting foreign intelligence agencies. In some cases, business Espionage suspects have even been convicted and sent to prison.
There are two common theories regarding why an increase in business Espionage is occurring. One theory is that there is a gradual increase in the number of people who are willing to work as agents provocateurs for their countries of origin. Often times, the individuals most willing to work as agents provocateurs do not actually understand the full extent of their employers countries of origin’s policies regarding Espionage. They may believe that whatever they are doing is within the rules of the foreign country. The second theory is that there is a sudden increase in the number of businesses that are outsourcing to countries like China or India. Outsourcing requires large amounts of capital, which in turn increases the risk of businesses revealing some sort of information about their products or operations to foreign intelligence agencies.
Regardless of the theory advanced, the fact remains that there is an increase in business Espionage. Additionally, there has been an increase in the number of companies that are aggressively seeking out information about their competition. Companies are using the information gained to compete against each other by developing a better strategy to market their product or service. If a competitor is found to be using information obtained through spying, they will quickly develop a plan to prevent any competitor from gaining a competitive advantage. It is a losing proposition for companies to invest in intelligence studies if they are already spending too much money on marketing campaigns.
Some businesses have become so dependent on getting information that they are cutting costs on everything from faxes to postage stamps. While this may seem like a good idea in the short run, businesses which have cut corners on important necessities are unlikely to regain those funds in the long run. As a result, businesses worldwide are turning to other means of gaining information which does not involve spying on competitors. A great example of this is when a hotel hires an employee with access to high level information. The employee can gain access to all sorts of information, from guest lists to reservations.
The question remains as to whether or not having spy software increases the chances of success. There is no way to know this for sure, but the chances definitely are not negative. On the other hand, it is certainly true that having spy software can greatly increase the amount of information which is available to the enemy. When someone is looking to spy on a rival, or if someone wants to gain information about a business competitor, they typically rely on information which is completely legal and available to the general public. The problem arises when a company gets caught because the law does not recognize an action as being undertaken for monetary gain.