When you close your eyes and picture a spy, what do you see?
Chances are that you see James Bond, fighting against the forces of evil for MI6. You might think about the Cold War and the quiet battle of espionage that existed between the United States and the Soviet Union. Heck, you might even think about more recent spy movies like the Mission: Impossible series, full of incredible stunts and Tom Cruise.
But the reality is that spying today is a much different animal than all of these historical and pop culture depictions. While, yes, there are still espionage efforts targeted at the U.S. government, there is also an incredible effort put into place to compromise the security of the private sector. Countries like China aren’t just interested in national secrets; they also want to steal our business innovations and intellectual property. This puts many businesses and organizations just like yours in a position not unlike those found in the spy movies from the 20th century. You’re under attack, even though you might not know it yet.
What is the Current Spy Landscape in the U.S.?
It’s been estimated by experts that there are currently between 3 to 4 million spies presently living in the United States, targeting everything from government agencies to cornfields in Iowa.
These aren’t necessarily the spies that you might remember from the movies. No tuxedos and martinis here. Instead, these spies are often “average” citizens from their respective countries, slowly working on undermining the security of our own. Their tools of espionage range from simple one-on-one interactions to high-tech tools that can be used to hack into our most secure databases.
Who Do We Have to Worry About the Most?
The first group to come to mind when you think “spies” is probably Russia. And while it’s true that Russian intelligence techniques are considered to be unparalleled, in reality, China is the greatest threat to economic security in this country.
While their techniques aren’t quite as sophisticated as Russia, they have a secret weapon: Numbers. China’s method of espionage involves a “whole-of-society” approach. It isn’t just trained government spies that we have to be watchful for. Instead, China’s government encourages espionage at all levels of their society. And with a population of over a billion people, they have an incredible abundance of resources to do so.
The current estimate is that the United States loses approximately $300 to $500 billion annually because of theft of intellectual property by China. If a Chinese company requests a sample of a new phone or laptop from an American company, it will likely only be returned after it was painstakingly disassembled with every possible secret pulled from it. While this is already illegal, it’s the more secretive intellectual property theft we need to be most watchful for.
Don’t Forget About Our “Allies”
You’d think that allies are the people who have our backs and help protect us from mutual threats, but more and more, evidence has been emerging about threats of espionage, both on the political and economic sides of the equation.
For example, back in September of 2019, media reports revealed that Israel may have been responsible for mobile phone surveillance devices allegedly being used to listen in on the President of the United States. While these allegations were refuted, it certainly raises the specter of “who can you trust?”
So, Who CAN You Trust?
With espionage threats coming from all sides, from the private and public sectors of multiple countries, you might be left wondering what you can do to protect yourself? Against this level of spying, what chance does your organization possibly have to secure your intellectual property and secrets? The answer is, you can do a lot if you have the right equipment and people at your disposal!
If you want to be assured that your company will be doing everything it can to protect against corporate espionage, we would highly recommend ComSec LLC’s Assurance Option.
With the Assurance Option, we provide your organization with security services that could help reduce corporate risk of electronic eavesdropping exposures. From threat assessments to TSCM/Cyber TSCM inspections to educational resources, our corporate espionage services are an all-inclusive solution. First, we assess your vulnerabilities, then develop a corporate espionage detection strategy. Next, we perform recurring TSCM/Cyber TSCM inspections. Finally, we provide a comprehensive service report to your team.
The Assurance Option consists of:
- Threat assessments prior to inspections to identify new corporate espionage threats.
- Periodic TSCM/Cyber TSCM inspections.
- Substitute an in-conference monitoring session for any TSCM/Cyber TSCM inspection.
- An electronic service report that includes inspection results and recommendations to improve your preventive corporate espionage posture.
- The “ComSec Threat Book,” a useful tool to educate your team on new bugging devices and corporate espionage tactics.
By taking advantage of the Assurance Option, you will be addressing all of your corporate espionage detection objectives and goals, including identifying vulnerabilities, developing an effective counterespionage program, detecting electronics eavesdropping threats in a timely manner, raising awareness within your company, and ultimately increasing the value of your corporate brand.
There is no bigger threat to the longevity and success of your brand than corporate espionage. If any of your data could be of value to a spy, they are likely already trying to get at it. With our corporate espionage services, we can detect exposures early, helping to prevent foreign entities from stealing your valuable intellectual property.
If you’d like to learn more about the Assurance Option, you can read more here. We also have many other cybersecurity and counterespionage products that will help keep your valuable information out of the hands of spies and foreign organizations. And if you have any questions about TSCM/Cyber TSCM and how to best protect your business, please feel free to contact us today!
About the Author:
J.D. LeaSure, CCISM, is the President / CEO of ComSec LLC, a global provider of world class counterespionage and TSCM / Cyber TSCM™ services. www.ComSecLLc.com