The High-Tech Gadgets and High Stakes of Corporate and Political Espionage

By: | November 15th, 2013

IndustryTap recently took an in-depth look at corporate espionage and how companies are trying to protect themselves from security breaches. Espionage in all its forms, from economic to military and political, is continually in the news with a tidal wave of accusations and angst over who is responsible.

The United States government has come under scrutiny as its citizens and politicians try to come to terms with how to balance the safeguarding of personal liberties with protecting the homeland. It’s estimated the US intelligence budget runs about $75 billion a year, two-thirds of the worldwide total espionage budget.

Much of what has gone on in the US over the past decade was a response to the 9/11 attacks and government agencies were given blank checks to develop systems and capabilities to thwart enemies. Also, due to the quick spread of the internet and its wholesale adoption by governments and businesses, new fields of activity have opened up in the global espionage game.

Myriad Forms of Espionage

Coming to terms with all the possible ways espionage can be carried out is the first step to protection. There are many ways to steal and “listen” to competitors and enemies.

According to the FBI: “Trade secrets are all forms and types of financial, business, scientific, technical, economic or engineering information, including patterns, plans, compilations, program devices, formulas, designs, prototypes, methods, techniques, processes, procedures, programs, or codes whether tangible or intangible, and whether or how stored, compiled, or memorialized physically, electronically, graphically, photographically or in writing, which the owner has taken reasonable measures to protect; and has an independent economic value. “Trade secrets” are commonly called classified proprietary information, economic policy information, trade information, proprietary technology, or critical technology.”

Stakes Couldn’t Be Greater

In the IndustryTap article Nuclear Warheads Diluted For Use In Nuclear Power Plants, we featured Graham Allison, Harvard Professor of Government and Director of the Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs, who discussed the likelihood of a nuclear attack on the United States. Though he believes it is possible, he believes it can be prevented.

For those responsible for protecting the United States against such events, any change in the policy of full and open access to all relevant information that could help to prevent attacks is a very serious question.

Recent Technological Innovations Have Completely Changed the Game of Espionage

According to the FBI, competitors criminally seek economic intelligence by aggressively recruiting employees and conduct economic intelligence through bribery, cyber attacks, theft of property, dumpster diving  and wiretapping. They also establish seemingly-innocent business relationships between foreign companies and U.S. industries to gather economic intelligence, including trade secrets.

Technologies Used for Espionage

Many of the technologies now used for espionage are just updated versions of previous technology: smaller, lighter and orders of magnitude more powerful.

Spying Equipment

  • Spy Cameras
  • Lock Picks
  • Computer Hacking
  • Network Intrusion
  • Video Pen Cameras
  • Miniature Cameras
  • Mobile Phone Spy Gadgets
  • Call Recorders
  • SIM Card Readers
  • Stun Guns Looking Like Cell Phones
  • Telebugs
  • Bionic Ear Boosters
  • Voice Changers
  • Audio Jammers
  • Wireless Video Cameras
  • Pinhole Video Cameras
  • Google Glass-Type Sunglasses or Glasses That Record Video, Pictures and Sound
  • Asset Tracking Devices
  • Eye Catchers
  • GPS Tracking Devices

Equipment to Protect You from Spies

  • Cellphone Detectors
  • Bug Detectors
  • Thermal Vision
  • Surveillance Cameras

US Spy Network 17 US Agencies

  • CIA – Central Intelligence Agency
  • NSA – National Security Agency (or “No Such Agency”)
  • Defense Intelligence Agency
  • State Department Bureau of Intelligence & Research
  • Air Force Intelligence
  • FBI – National Security Branch
  • Army Intelligence and Security Command
  • Department of Energy, Office of Intelligence and Counterintelligence
  • Coast Guard Intelligence
  • Treasury’s Office of Intelligence and Analysis
  • DEA – Drug Enforcement Administration
  • Marine Corps Intelligence Agency
  • National Geospatial Intelligence Agency
  • National Reconnaissance Office
  • Office of Naval Intelligence
  • DHS – Department of Homeland Security
  • Office of the Director of National Intelligence
David Russell Schilling

David enjoys writing about high technology and its potential to make life better for all who inhabit planet earth.

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