The Four Faces of Business Espionage
William M. Johnson identified the Four Faces of Business Espionage: Pretext Attacks, Computer Abuse, Technical Surveillance, and Undercover Operations as part of a research project that began with Spies & Private Lives – The Evolution of Eavesdropping.
(Doctoral Thesis, ©1982 by William M. Johnson)
The research continues.
1. Delphi and Other Pretext Attacks
Sophisticated pretext interviews and/or “surveys” are often the first steps in a spy operation. These attacks may take place on the phone, through social media, at seminars and trade shows, or anyplace else the target is available. The attacker hopes to trigger emotional and other responses that will trick the target into answering sensitive questions. Pretext attacks through social media and other online activities help hide the true identity of the attacker.
2. Computer Abuse
Computer systems are always vulnerable, especially if computer access codes are well known or posted around the office. Attacks are increasingly sophisticated and may take place both on and off site. Informational leaks via social media are common, but studies show that the spy at the next desk may actually be a bigger threat than those online.
3. Technical Surveillance
Technical surveillance is part of many spy operations. A spy can buy a legal wireless audio/video device and use it illegally indoors in many situations, or as a tracking device in field operations. Bugs can be hidden anywhere, and built into anything. Drones of many types and configurations are also an increasing problem. Many types of equipment are covered, but spies and TSCM technicians are more interesting than the electronics. The focus is on the human factor.
4. Undercover Attacks
Undercover spy operations were one of the earliest forms of spying. These attacks are often by spies inside the targeted organization, including people on the target’s payroll who may not know the real purpose of the operation, or how the information in their reports will be used. Successful undercover attacks may go on for months - or even years - depending on the spies’ objectives.
Note: To learn more about The Four Faces of Business Espionage refer to the CD “101 Questions & Answers About Business Espionage” The 2017 Edition is part of the BECCA Certified Confidentiality Officer (CCO) Program.