Google’s recent decision to pull out of China may come as a surprise to some, but it is the first public admission of the top IT problem for U.S. companies – Chinese corporate espionage. Legislators in the United States have long complained about the issue, and companies have been quiet about it because they want to stay in China’s good graces. But the timing of Google’s announcement is a wake-up call to U.S. companies.
A recent case involves a Chinese hacking operation that allegedly targeted Google China. They took intellectual property and access email accounts of human rights activists, and are believed to be part of a wider cyber attack on Chinese companies known as Operation Aurora. Another example involves an Oracle executive that paid investigators to steal Microsoft’s garbage, and another case involved a Chinese company that paid independent research organizations to publish pro-Microsoft reports.
Industrial espionage is the practice of gathering information from rivals, and can be both ethical and illegal. It can be performed in many different ways, and the goal is to gain a competitive edge over competitors. In some cases, this means illegally tapping a competitor’s phone, hacking its networks, or stealing a competitor’s business plans. There are different types of industrial espionage, including CI and IE. In order to use CI and IE effectively, a company must meet all four of these features.
The most common form of industrial espionage is conducted through a variety of channels. It may be illegal, or it may be legal. Regardless of the type of espionage, it is important to know that a company’s digital assets are still vulnerable to cyberattacks. One way to protect against this type of crime is to carefully screen new employees. Some corporate HR departments conduct background checks, but not all companies do so.