Global Corporate Intelligence: Opportunities, Technologies, and Threats in the 1990s

By George S. Roukis; Hugh Conway et al. | Go to book overview

be a process for assessing current and programmed collection against critical strategic objectives. This would allow for adjustments in collection, processing, and production where new developments or unforeseen incidents or crises arise. A periodic internal accountability review will discern the vulnerabilities of the system, if any, and reveal organizational weaknesses, such as faulty collection methods or dubious sources of collection. 32

Moreover, to further insure that sensitive information is protected, the intelligence unit should establish a classification system that defines different levels of information access. Adopting in some modified format the classifications used by governments (confidential, secret, and top secret) would enhance security. Confidential information is defined as information "the unauthorized disclosure of which reasonably could be expected to cause damage to the national security." Secret information presupposes that the expected damage from unauthorized disclosure would be "serious." The effects of disclosure of top secret information would be exceptionally "grave." 33 For employees with access to sensitive information, background checks (full field investigations) would be desirable. Signing nondisclosure agreements would also heighten security. It should be pointed out that such security measures define different levels of data sensitivity and restrict access to those who have been cleared on a need-to-know basis. Hence guidelines regarding classification, data protection, and access levels are extremely important. Installing shredding devices for disposal of confidential data and conducting periodic checks for wiretapping and bugging can also minimize trade-secret thefts.

A corporate spy's primary mission is to acquire a rival's secret proprietary information (software, inventions, prototypes, concepts, designs, blueprints, and drawings), and innovative methods will be used to obtain this data. 34 Depending on the circumstances, these methods might include planting an agent on the competitor's property, false job interviews with a competitor's employee(s), hiring away a strategically placed competitor's employee, or outright theft of documents, samples, and drawings. 35 Irrespective of the method used, it would be unwise for corporate managements to assume that industrial espionage is a low-risk contingency. Trade-secret thefts cost American firms billions of dollars annually, and the costs will escalate as the computer becomes easier to penetrate. Industrial espionage will assume greater importance than military or political espionage in future years, and this threat must be forthrightly addressed by concerned corporate managements. Since business is not as encumbered as government in policy making and administration, it can more readily adapt to changing circumstances and situations. An effective all-embracing corporate intelligence system is crucial for survival.


NOTES
1.
For an excellent account of this thesis, see Paul Kennedy, The Rise and Fall of the Great Powers ( New York: Random House, 1987). According to Kennedy, "Simply

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