Magazine article Security Management

How Can EAPs Serve Security?

Magazine article Security Management

How Can EAPs Serve Security?

Article excerpt

Companies must establish an intelligence-gathering tool to identify troubled employees and preempt the loss of information.

At 3 p.m. Friday, a telephone call is received by John, a senior member of the company team working on a sensitive acquisition. By this time on a Friday, John is fatigued and depressed from bouts of late night drinking and the inevitable violent arguments with his wife, who has decided to leave him. These problems are having a noticeable effect on John's performance at work. He has been admonished by both the project leader and his manager about his need to shape up.

But that has only led to increased drinking, greater physical debilitation, and a reduced capacity to deal with the challenges of the day. John, who has been drinking heavily for several years, is in the classic descent of the alcoholic.

The amiable and eager caller he begins chatting with this afternoon identifies herself as a student of international business relations at a local college. She is, in fact, an intelligence collector retained by a competitor, expert in the art of telephone elicitation. She is also sensitive to the insinuated contempt for authority and the absence of concern for security that John's tone and comments communicate. And though he did not reveal any sensitive or confidential information about the merger during this conversation, his cavalier attitude and dissatisfaction with work come through clearly.

The caller, who uses the name Adrienne, is an attractive 32 year old. She will ask John to make time for a personal visit. She will appeal to his vanity by mentioning the many demands on his schedule. "I know a man in your position is always pressed for time, but it would mean so much to me if we could visit personally," she says. She says that she is a student, and she says that her professor "demands that we develop our field and interviewing skills." (She has the name of a faculty member at the business school ready, should John ask who her professor is.) She offers to come to his office, adding "or we could meet later, if that would be more convenient."

Adrienne has found a potential primary source in the company who could jeopardize a deal that is critical to the future of the business. She has, in the language of the intelligence world, started the process of human source acquisition, or recruitment.

Those who are expert in the game of recruitment are adept in the identification and exploitation of human weakness. To an astute collector of human intelligence, the attitudes and frustrations John communicated to Adrienne are an invitation to begin the incremental movement toward a relationship that may result in the gathering of proprietary information. These information gatherers know that troubled individuals are most eager to talk about themselves and their work, and they easily enter into the give and take that, when artfully staged by an expert, leads to the revelation of secrets.

In the aftermath of espionage, industrial or governmental, the shock and surprise is often followed by the question: Why? And although the answer is often complex in the particular, it is rather simple as a generality. There have been, and will continue to be, spies motivated by ideology (though one sees less of this phenomenon since the Cold War was definitively won by the West), but in the main, it is the personal issues that drive behavior, be it in the workplace or elsewhere. People betray a trust, damage their country or corporation, place their families at risk, overcome the natural tendency to avoid criminal behavior, along with the fear of its consequences, more from desperation than inspiration. And this desperation is often a consequence of substance abuse, financial difficulties, personal trials, or the anger and resentment that comes with the belief that one is not sufficiently appreciated, either financially or otherwise.

Whether someone like the fictional John decides consciously to exploit the information he has access to for personal gain or simply reveals secrets through carelessness or anger, the effect is the same: damage to the company. …

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