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THE IGNORED SECURITY RISK – COMMERCIAL/INDUSTRIAL ESPIONAGE

Updated: Jun 3

Reposted blog


The FBI Director Christopher Wray said yesterday: "As I stand here talking with you today, the FBI has about 1,000 investigations involving China’s attempted theft of U.S.-based technology in all 56 of our field offices and spanning just about every industry sector.” According to Director Wray, the Chinese efforts are directed, extensive and aggressive against military secrets as well as medical research.

China rejected the accusations as “entirely baseless.”

I don’t wish to go into who is doing what. Frankly, every country is engaging in commercial/industrial espionage. The fact is that industrial espionage is happening and is largely ignored by managers/executives. As I said in my book, The Egg Breakers – Counter-Terrorism in sub-Sahara Africa, “Not all spying is on behalf of governments or even involves a government funded organisation which is the idea which most have of spying. You also find commercial spying called industrial espionage directed against business secrets and know-how. It is a major unrecognized problem in Africa for all companies and not only large multi-nationals. For some reason, most overseas companies just don't get it that this type of thing can happen in Africa too and not only in China or Europe. I keep on saying and I am sure it is irritating, that it is morally wrong and dangerous to relax your ways when in Africa because it is Africa. It shows racism and disrespect on another level even if I am sure it may well be unintentional. On industrial espionage, the available statistics tell us that Germany loses up to $87 billion dollars per year. That is roughly 30,000 job losses. Since the USA has an economy five times bigger than Germany, the math shows us American losses at a staggering $435 billion and about 150,000 jobs every year which is terrible in any language. A quick calculation shows me that 410 Americans are losing their jobs every day because industrial espionage is not taken seriously enough by the bosses (2012 statistics – you can double the above figures today).”

A major part of my specialist field, forensic law, is counter-commercial espionage where we try to prevent commercial secrets from being stolen. Our approach is to conduct a thorough security overview to see what is in place and more importantly if the existing security precautions are followed as they should be, to be effective. As a general rule, we find that even the best-known companies fail to have even basic precautions in place. And even if in place, they fail to implement it which is the biggest nightmare for any security officer at that level. What is more, less than 1% of multinationals are training or preparing their executives and employees for a kidnapping ordeal despite that too happens often enough to be a serious concern. Not even the most basic security briefings take place. It is astonishing. There is a bigger picture too. I am most certainly not convinced that industrial espionage is not terror related. Just look at history. It is well known that in the Cold War a large part of the Soviet Union’s spying was to obtain civilian industrial knowledge they needed for their military industry. My question is, who trained the Chinese in the Cold War? The Soviets certainly, on and off, had a major influence. Their entire intelligence community follows the established Soviet one. And who specialized in stealing industrial secrets? Pupils tend to follow their teachers; it is entirely logical.

The Egg Breakers – Counter-Terrorism in sub-Sahara Africa can be found at https://www.amazon.com/dp/B01GYDBHLM.

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