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The Role of Computer Forensics in Industrial Espionage

Aug 13, 2008
Knowing about the competitor business moves is a primary concern of some of the largest businesses in the world. They have annual budget and manpower to handle these concerns. The intelligence that they gather is transformed into strategic actions which impact sales, pricing, positioning, merchandising and profits.

Some companies though have gone beyond the legal boundaries of studying what their competition offers. Illegal Collection of information violates the code of ethics. Such illegal activity of obtaining competitor information is called industrial espionage.


Industrial espionage pertains to the covert activities performed by businesses to get information about their competition. They use this information to formulate strategies to gain a bigger share of the market. Bigger Profit is the primary goal why spying is being performed in the corporate world.

The term corporate espionage is equal to industrial espionage. Industrial espionage target rival companies or sometimes even government agencies to gain favor or get vital information.

A lot of monetary losses are attributed to industrial espionage. Unfortunately, most companies do not report incidents of industrial espionage in fear of losing credibility among its stake holders.

The Golden Information

Competitors in the business will value any information they can get about their counterparts. Strategies, product design, product flaw, business process are among the most sought after intelligence about the competitor. Specialized units process this information and forward them to top management so that countermeasures can be taken.

Some companies resort to reverse engineering where a competitor buys a product and disassembles it so they can dissect its components to gain technical knowledge.

Database of customers are also very important for competitors since they will know the behavior of the market and implement a more effective program. Other information pertaining to tender bids, expansion plans, and mergers is vital if intercepted by the competitor.

The collection method varies. Some companies send off their own employees to work for the competition. The internet has given way for more high technology industrial espionage. Even trash cans are a gold mine for information about the business set up of the competition.

High Tech Stealing

The most obvious way of industrial espionage is by stealing computer hard disks, laptops, or by intrusion into the office of the competition. There is software available which can be installed in the system network of the competition to record key strokes. These key strokes can be analyzed to decode passwords and gain access to personal profiles of employees who may be handling sensitive or key positions. Spyware have evolved and have become more difficult to detect. The competition may be watching without the other knowing about it.

Digital Forensics can be used to Point to the Guilty Party

Some employees who spy for the competition can send files and delete them after. Unknowingly, these deleted files might no longer exist in the system but the activities of the perpetrator are embedded in the hard drive. This means that the deleted file can be recovered and the spy can be held liable for his actions.

There are Special tools that are employed by computer experts. All that it takes is to dig into what has been deleted and study the possibilities and patterns of spy activities. With such tools, all measures must be taken to counter industrial espionage which might lead to loss in productivity and market share.
About the Author
The author of this article is Benedict Yossarian an Internet Marketing Consultan t. Enquiry Agent is a leading private investigation agency based in the UK.
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