What is espionage?
Espionage revolves around confidential information, also referred to as intelligence. Espionage is the act of attempting to gather confidential information illegally.
There are certain types of information that are very valuable to other parties. For companies, these are:
Intellectual Property (IP)
Mostly applicable to innovative companies. IP is developed through ideas, research and development.
Employee data, customer data, research, financial corporate data, safety sensitive data, etc.
Details of contracts and deals
Any information that could give competitors an advantage over you in tenders and contract negotiations or extensions.
Plans for future expansion, business, new products or services which could be of interest to competitors
So, competitors are potential entities that may resort to espionage. More often, we see foreign regimes, governments and intelligence agencies at work in gathering intelligence that gives them a technological, political, commercial or military advantage.
What's the risk for my organisation?
The 4-point list gives you a good idea whether your company is at risk. The more confidential information you have in any of those categories, the greater your risk profile.
The Dutch Civil and Military intelligence agencies have been warning organisations in The Netherlands for years that espionage is a common threat. Our level of knowledge is relatively high and there are many innovative companies in our country. Countries like Russia and China have the expertise, methods and funding. Their focus is mostly on IP and data, especially when sanctions prevent them from regular access to certain technology and innovation.
The risk is often underestimated
Theft of confidential information can often be so devastating that a company does not survive the blow.
Still, we see that a large number of organisations don’t take action to protect themselves from this risk.
The reason for this is usually one of the following:
General underestimation: it won’t happen to me..
Assuming that legal safeguarding of IP and data is sufficient
Assuming that cybersecurity is sufficient
The subject was never really on their radar
Espionage in action
If you want to protect yourself against espionage, it is essential to know the different methods. As mentioned above, the digital cyber domain is not the only place where access to your confidential information is possible.
In December of 2020, the Dutch intelligence agency reported that Russian spies were active and managed to gather technological IP on a significant scale. This occurred completely outside the cyber domain — they used old-fashioned techniques such as manipulation of people and bribery. National security may have been compromised as well, if the information captured is usable in military or political applications.
It is important to realise that stolen IP and data may not only have impact on your company but potentially have much farther-reaching implications.
It starts with awareness
Protecting yourself from risks is impossible without being aware of the risks in the first place. Reading this page is a first step!
The next, necessary step is expanding that awareness. Not just with respect to knowledge, but also the people around you who need to be aware as well. Awareness means not just knowing the risk to you but also what you can do in order to neutralise that risk as much as possible. That applies to every person in your organisation.
Protected against espionage
Dyami safeguards our organisation from espionage with the following services:
Design and implementation of a security policy, procedures and Emergency Response
Risk & threat assessments, globally and locally
Training for people: awareness and resilience
Safe & secure international travel support
Due diligence of new and existing partners, suppliers, employees and clients
Anti-bug sweeping of offices, cars, venues, and homes (audio/video/network)
Physical protection of people, assets, transport
The weakest link: people
People are, simultaneously, one of the most important assets and one of the greatest risks to an organisation. Spies use that to their advantage.
Existing employees can be threatened, blackmailed, manipulated or bribed. But spies can also infiltrate your organisation by simply applying for a job or internship. Or start a close relationship as a partner, supplier or client. This is the insider threat.
People also inherently make mistakes or forget things, especially during high workload or stress.
But nobody wants a corporate culture of mistrust. There are, however, all sorts of methods available to ensure great relationships with your people and partners while keeping the insider threat risk to a minimum.
International business trips pose extra challenges. A different environment, culture and threats. Ensuring safe international business and travel is also one of our specialties.