Corporate Espionage, a term we are so familiar with, means acquisition of trade secrets from business competitors or an disgruntled employee. According to a recent survey by Assocham (Assocham is the one of the apex industry bodies), as much as 35% of the companies operating in various sections across India, are engaged in ‘corporate espionage’ via social networking sites or otherwise. Why? Either to gain an edge over their competitors or to spy on their employees.
This survey was carried out over a period of five months (January to May) and some fifteen hundred EDs and CEOs of various business sectors and locations such as Ahmedabad, Bangalore, Mumbai, Chennai and Delhi-NCR were interviewed to ascertain the measures taken by India Inc. to protect their trade secrets, data, plans and clientele information. About two hundred private eyes, detective firms, trained sleuths and surveillance agencies were also interacted with in these five major cities. Mr. D. S Rawat, Secretary General of Assocham mentioned the demand from the companies operating in auto, biotech, banking, insurance, FMCG, IT-BPO, telecom and manufacturing sectors is overwhelming, since they have a large database and sensitive information and networks like research and development process, innovation, product specification, new marketing and sales strategies.
Industrial espionage is present and was accepted by most of these companies to gain access to those information and steal trade secrets from their competitors through private deals. As shocking as it many sound, many corporates admitted that they hire detective services (surveillance and social media monitoring) to spy on their employees’ life. Even ex-employees (especially those fired for committing a fraud) are not spared of this secret emissary.
How does it exactly happen? Well, companies are vulnerable to larceny and some companies hire spy agencies to plant a spy, a ‘rat’ in the minor job roles such as peon, photocopiers, receptionist etc., to ascertain that the union leader of the company is getting paid for creating disturbance in the workforce.
Also, before hiring, an individual’s criminal, commercial and financial records are thoroughly checked. The data is also gathered through Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, Google+ etc., thereby keeping a track of the employees and rival companies. Social media updates of the rivals and employees are also strictly monitored.
The survey added, corporates are now using monitoring software to hack and crack the networks, track emails of their rivals and perform other covert activities. Demand for spying gadgets have also gone up by 30% and spying equipment is correctly poised at about Rs 4,500 crore, 20% of which is covered by CCTV cameras. Believe it.