Over the past few years there has been an increase in business espionage and countermeasures. In particular the focus has been on the airline industry as an example of an entity that can be targeted for intelligence collection. In this modern world many businesses have computers, and therefore there are numerous companies in several different industries that have become targets for intelligence collection. In order to protect their company and their intellectual property they must employ countermeasures. The latest buzzwords in the security world are “cybersecurity” and “cyberespionage”.
The use of computer systems, especially those within the airline industry, has increased the availability of communications. While the general public rarely thinks of the types of eavesdropping devices used by private investigators and corporate security professionals, these eavesdroppers can and do collect information on a person by utilizing a variety of methods including hacking, passive infrared, radio frequency identification (RFID) technology and cell phones. As more of the world becomes digitally connected through wireless networks, airplanes, automobiles and even smart phones, the possibilities for surveillance expo events increase. This is especially true as more agencies seek to learn more about the activities of people associated with organizations.
The FBI has held a number of annual meetings to discuss issues concerning electronic surveillance and countermeasures. One of the topics that always arises at these meetings is “Biological Countermeasures”. Countermeasures include everything from video surveillance to fake cameras and pens that can be placed in public areas to trick someone into having an interaction with the camera. The latest buzzwords in the world of countermeasures includes “cyber espionage” and “cyberwarfare”. A recent article in Time Magazine included a quote from a former CIA agent that described cyber Espionage as “the war between the United States and the international terrorists”.
Another topic at a recent surveillance expo was “wire tapping”. This involves placing hidden electronic intercept devices in places where an employee or contractor may have access. It is an extreme measure that many companies use as a last resort to prevent theft or other inappropriate activities. Companies often place these interceptors in computer systems or sensitive locations where high security clearance is given. “Wire tapping” also refers to the intentional communication of conversations by an employee or contractor outside of normal working hours, such as when discussing matters of personal business.
Electronic eavesdropping can also be performed by hand. However, there are limits to the use of physical countermeasures and physical intercepts in certain cases. For example, if an employee is using a walk-in microwave at work, it is not possible to use a spectrum analyzer on it. Likewise, if an employee uses an air freshener during a conversation, it is nearly impossible to determine what it is.
As you can see, there are many different countermeasures available for detecting, identifying, and preventing business espionage. Each countermeasure requires a significant investment of resources and personnel. However, if your company is willing to commit resources to securing its assets, you should have minimal risk of getting attacked. Increasing countermeasures will not necessarily stop an attacker from attacking, but will greatly reduce the time it takes for you to defend yourself. Your peace of mind is worth the investment.