Corporate Espionage Has Come of Age

By: | October 9th, 2013

As most know, the Internet was originally devised as a military technology that would allow decentralized communication in the wake of a nuclear war. After the Internet was created, James Bond-like spies around the world could tap into the network and upload and download information and instructions for commercial or military ends. That the Internet has now moved to the cell phone and is in the hands of billions means surveillance-type activities can now be carried out by anyone, anywhere, at any time.

The type of activities now involved in “espionage” has expanded from simply obtaining knowledge to sabotage and terrorism. This involves the recruitment of disgruntled employees, breaking and entering to steal data or remote access via computer to copy valuable information. Access to information occurs when malware or spyware infects a computer and then runs a program allowing access to stored resources.

A quick search of “surveillance by cell phone” turns up thousands of devices available in a worldwide marketplace for conducting covert operations. These include covert listening devices (bugs), iPhone stealth espionage apps, Chinese wholesale cell phone jammers, tablet hacking technology, mini GPS devices and more.

One of the most common uses of cell phone spying technology is by parents and lovers who want to verify locations. To this date, there are no federal regulations regulating cell phone spying. Under the current rules, anyone can monitor anyone.

Eavesdropping on Individuals, Government, Business and Military

Some Internet websites promote services allowing people to track whoever they want by obtaining that person’s cell phone number. This technology also allows eavesdropping on live conversations without anyone’s knowledge.

A German chemical company has  begun requiring its managers to keep their mobile phones in metal cans during meetings in order to guard against industrial espionage. Using the metal tins produces what is called the “Faraday Cage Effect” that blocks electromagnetic radiation and prevents hacking of cell phones and emails. Experts have explained the phones can be tapped even when they are switched off.

Recently, the US government unveiled a broad strategy to fight against what they believe is the systematic theft by Chinese government agencies of US trade and technology secrets. The plan includes a diplomatic effort, but toughening of intellectual property theft laws abroad and better security at companies in the US.

US law enforcement regularly uses cell phone taps to monitor criminal activities.  This is accomplished by remotely “hijacking” a cell phone’s microphone so conversations can be recorded.

Protecting Infrastructure from Espionage

It has become commonplace in the United States for companies to shield entire buildings from eavesdropping devices. SC Magazine, a security industry periodical, covers issues and news facing security professionals and provides resources and white papers to help them improve how data is handled and protected.

How are You Protecting Yourself from Espionage?

We would like to hear from you about the best solutions you’ve seen to combat industrial espionage. What have you tried, what’s working and was there a cost/benefit payoff?

David Russell Schilling

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