Corporate Intelligence: A Baldrige-Based Corporate Espionage Organizational Assessment

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The concept and scope of corporate intelligence as it relates to an organization entails the high stakes of corporate espionage efforts being deployed by individuals, corporations, and countries worldwide that the organization impacts. Corporate espionage is the most common means by which an organization tries to gain competitive or financial advantage over one or more competitors. Many organizations hire ex-military and government agents trained in very sophisticated spying techniques to obtain sensitive, competitive and trademarked data and information under the guise of competitive intelligence. Corporate espionage tactics can involve allowing volunteers and student assistants to work for an organization and secretly conduct undercover work, theft of documents by employees, dumpster diving by both employees and vendors, planting of electronic bugs throughout an organization by outside vendors, hacking an organization’s computers by contract and in-house IT professionals, tapping phones and voicemail by outside vendors and in-house employees, planting false information about an organization in various industry and trade magazines, trailing family members of senior executives, threatening reporters who conduct investigative reporting on an organization’s competitive practices, hiring police, contracting with former security agency officials and combat veterans who have had prior experience orchestrating highly confidential intelligence work in conducting various covert and undercover operations that can cause negative impacts and disruptions within an organization and on its various business practices. Intellectual property protection is the theft, copying or unauthorized reproduction of confidential trade secrets and business practices that are obtained by a business competitor. Organizations often obtain this data and information by stealing and securing their competition’s corporate intelligence. The Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), National Security Agency (NSA) and Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), renowned for their analysis of intelligence and for their technical prowess in covert operations, electronic surveillance and overhead reconnaissance, have transferred various intelligence operations from government staff to private firms in recent years. This outsourcing to outside intelligence-gathering groups brings about an immerse capacity of intelligence gathering for hire. In a global economy saturated in the transfer of competitive data in nanoseconds, the need to turn competitor information into actionable intelligence has never been greater. Most organizations’ corporate intelligence resides within the organization among employees who can be either perpetrators or resolvers of corporate intelligence problems and issues. This comprehensive manual will aid an organization’s corporate intelligence efforts by identifying strengths and opportunities for improvement regarding an organization’s overall intelligence and security initiatives. This manual will also be most valuable in developing, revising, and/or improving a Corporate Intelligence Plan that will help an organization identify and strategically address intelligence opportunities that will: • Identify “early warning signs” of intelligence breaches by employees, competitors, and vendors • Retain competiveness and maintain intelligence security within the workforce throughout the organization • security leaks, breaches, and corporate intelligence weaknesses within the organization • Provide intelligence data/information and practices that need additional protection and alignment