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Corporate Espionage

By Gurpreet Thathy | 07 Feb 2022

Corporate Espionage – signs to look out for

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Corporate Espionage – signs to look out for

It's a challenge knowing when and how competitors steal secret business information.

If you suspect that your business has been a target of corporate espionage, it's essential to take action immediately — from doing an in-house investigation to hiring a private professional. If you see any of the below signs, don't ignore them, but also take care not to make any unfounded accusations or statements. Keep your thoughts closely held and get the evidence first.

Unexplained or sudden changes in practices

When staff members suddenly change how they execute established business practices, this could signify that they are also working for someone else. If you see an employee suddenly working more hours or coming in on the weekends, this could be additional cause for concern, as corporate spies may try to cover their tracks. So, when there are unexplained changes in behaviour, and particularly when people act strangely when asked questions about them, take notice.

Accessing computer files without permission

Unauthorized computer access could mean that a person is trying to get hold of sensitive information. If you suspect that someone is accessing files without permission, investigate further. 

Unusual computer activity

When strange activity on a company's computers occurs, such as staff emailing more than usual or using their own devices more often to send messages or images, ascertain why. While such a message could be an innocent selfie, it could also be a company-classified plan.

Becoming defensive or secretive about work

A person becoming secretive or evasive about what they are working on should be an alarm bell. Corporate spies may have to create business reports or presentations for their other employer and will need to do additional work for this role to be plausible.

Equipment or files go missing

Espionage can be hard to detect, but missing equipment and/or files are two of the most common clues. There may also be absences that coincide with such disappearances.

Employees quitting suddenly

Sudden resignations merit concern. If someone quits unexpectedly and without any apparent reason, it could be a sign that they're leaving because their “mission” is complete.

Changes in business relationships

If you suddenly stop working with a business partner and there is no apparent reason why, this could be because that person is involved in corporate espionage against your company.

Corporate secrets leaked to the press

If the media suddenly has access to confidential information, espionage is certainly a possibility. If you think your company's secrets have been leaked, you should tighten security as well as investigate further. You can do both by looking for patterns in the leaks, as well as determining who may have had access to the information and how they may have obtained it.

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