Unfortunately, corporate espionage isn’t necessarily always as classy or explosive as Ian Fleming might describe but, unlike James Bond, its dangers to Australian business are very real indeed.
But what is corporate espionage exactly?
Corporate espionage, otherwise known as industrial espionage, is defined as “the covert and sometimes illegal practice of investigating competitors to gain a business advantage. The target of investigation might be a trade secret such as a proprietary product specification or formula, or information about business plans.” Now, while that might seem like a bit of a mouthful, it’s really a lot simpler than it sounds.
Corporate Espionage be as unassuming as stealing a mobile phone full of important contacts to land a good job or as complex as uncovering expansion plans and applying specific strategies to lower a competitor’s stock price.
So, who’s at risk of corporate espionage?
Spying on behalf of a competitor, or for personal gain, is an act that small, medium and large businesses in Australia, across all industry sectors can expect to suffer. That’s right, whether you’re a corner store on Smith Street or a multinational bank, you can fall victim to the hands of corporate espionage.
Turning a blind eye to corporate espionage, with the notion that “it can’t happen to me,” or thinking that nobody would be interested in your organisation can only land you in trouble. Over the last ten years alone, following global recessions, redundancies and pay cuts, businesses around the world have experienced a significant increase in the levels of corporate espionage, enacted as a means of personal gain or to assist in a competitor’s ability to achieve a particular goal.
Some of the most common forms of corporate espionage include:
“Hacking” is defined as gaining unauthorised access to data in a system or computer and, as such, if your business holds important information on a server, web platform or office hardware, without appropriate protection your data is at risk of being stolen. Client lists, stakeholder information, development plans, inventory lists, financial information and more are all easily accessible to well trained hackers.
From internal staff to cleaning ladies and delivery boys, any person who has access to your building and a USB drive has the potential to steal important information to sell on. Mobile phones, hard drives, CDs, ring binders and calendars are amongst the items most frequently stolen from offices.
If a competitor, especially a larger one, has plans to overthrow your business, most commonly an employee can be paid off or inserted as a means to cause damage to the inner workings of your organisation or worse yet, cause public shame and disrepute through the ever-increasing speed at which word of mouth travels over social media.
How to prevent corporate espionage:
First and foremost, your best line of defence is to incorporate effective background checks in your recruitment process – we chime on and on about it, but if you really want to protect your business then it’s the quickest, most cost-efficient and reliable means to gain a real understanding of who your employees, contractors and subcontractors really are.
If they’d ever been involved in the likes of fraud, misconduct, identity theft or worse, you’d be better of not employing them… but you’d only know that information by applying a thorough, professional background check.
There are a number of other measures that can you have integrated into your business as either long term or short term forms of protection, but for the best advice, please contact Precise Investigation.
Call Precise Investigation today on 1300 856 011 for a professional, Private Investigation Service
Precise Investigation has faithfully served Australian businesses and individuals alike for three decades, helping people from all industry sectors to recover their losses, protect themselves against fraud, prevent corporate espionage, investigate claims and uncover lies.
Whether you’re based in Melbourne, Sydney, Adelaide, Perth, Hobart, Brisbane or even the more remote areas of the Australia, one of our industry specialists and dedicated support team will be more than able to help.