News / Economy

More Kinds of Corporate Spies Target More Kinds of Trade Secrets

FILE -A U.S. Navy F/A-18 Super Hornet.
FILE -A U.S. Navy F/A-18 Super Hornet.
Efforts to steal trade secrets from U.S. companies continue at a high level and are hitting new targets, in spite of major efforts to stop such industrial espionage. Losing trade secrets hurts the economy by discouraging investments in the research critical to growth.  Some new players are getting into the fray, and the attacks hit a huge variety of businesses from high tech to high fashion.  

Plans for a fighter jet are an obvious target for corporate and other kinds of spies, but experts say industrial espionage also has been aimed at high fashion designers and toymakers, innovative steel makers, food and beverage companies, clean energy research and wind turbine makers.  Corporate spies also are seeking information about the management practices that guide successful businesses.

Mandient corporate security expert Laura Galante says a growing number of companies think security breaches are becoming inevitable.

“2013 was kind of an inflection point for cyber threats and our industry, the cyber security industry, because so many new types of companies were interested in understanding the threat that was their next headache," said Galante.

She says some relatively new players have attacked Western media companies and banks.  The cyberattacks on economic targets are apparently intended to advance political interests of forces in Syria and Iran.

A former federal prosecutor who took many cases of industrial and economic espionage to trial says China is making the most attempts to steal company secrets.  But Peter Toren of the law firm Weisbrod Matteis & Copley says many nations are active in this area.

“I would guess that all of the western European nations are doing it, Russia; Israel is doing it," said Toren.

University of New Haven business Professor George Haley says French spies sought new targets at the end of the cold war.  He spoke via Skype.  

“After the fall of the Soviet Union, they had moved their espionage efforts from primarily political espionage to industrial espionage, to benefit French companies.  So France is definitely there," said Haley.

Experts say companies can spend millions of dollars and years of work creating a better computer program, a lighter and stronger kind of steel or other product.  If another company steals that research, the thief can then create a competing product at a far lower cost and gain a price advantage in the market.  

The author of the book “Restoring Our American Dream,” Michael Farr, says industrial espionage also destroys trust and hurts the economy.  Farr is an investment advisor and says without trust, businesses will not take the risks and make the investments needed to create a growing economy and new jobs.  

"If you really don’t trust me and I really don’t trust you, we could be faced with the best opportunity that we could jointly pursue and we both would back away from it.  So trust is really essential," said Farr.

Peter Toren says companies can protect themselves by making it clear to employees that the company’s prosperity - and their jobs - depend on keeping their technological advantage.  

He says defenses include training that keeps up with the evolving threats, and creating a corporate culture that takes cyber and other security issues seriously.

You May Like

Beijing Warns Hong Kong Protesters, Cracks Down at Home

In suppressing protest news, China reportedly has arrested more than 20 people on the mainland who acted in support of Hong Kong pro-democracy protesters More

Competing Goals Could Frustrate Efforts to Fight Islamic State

As alliances shift and countries re-define themselves, analysts say long-standing goals of some key players in Middle East may soon compete with Western goals More

Child Sexual Exploitation to Worsen in SE Asia

Southeast Asia’s planned economic integration is a key step for boosting the region’s productivity, but carries downsides as well More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
The Legacy of Jimmy Carter: The Preacher from Plainsi
X
October 01, 2014 10:45 AM
It is common in the United States to see tourists flock to sites associated with America's presidents. Some are privately owned and others are run by the National Park Service or the National Archives -- but most have helped draw business and people into the towns and cities where they are located. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, there is one particular presidential hometown that is unique in what it has to offer those who make the trip.
Video

Video The Legacy of Jimmy Carter: The Preacher from Plains

It is common in the United States to see tourists flock to sites associated with America's presidents. Some are privately owned and others are run by the National Park Service or the National Archives -- but most have helped draw business and people into the towns and cities where they are located. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, there is one particular presidential hometown that is unique in what it has to offer those who make the trip.
Video

Video Hong Kong Protests Draw New Supporters on National Holiday

On the 65th anniversary of the founding of Communist China, Hong Kong protesters are hoping to stage the largest pro-democracy demonstration since the 1989 Tiananmen protests. VOA's Brian Padden visited one of the protest sites mid-day, when the atmosphere was calm and where the supporters were enthusiastic about joining what they are calling the umbrella revolution.
Video

Video India's PM Continues First US Visit

India's prime minister is on his first visit to Washington, to strengthen political and economic ties between the world's oldest and the world biggest democracies. He came to the U.S. capital from New York, the first stop on his five-day visit to the country that denied him an entry visa in the past. From Washington, Zlatica Hoke reports Modi seemed most focused on attracting foreign investment and trade to increase job opportunities for his people.
Video

Video Malaysia Struggles to Stop People Joining Jihad

Malaysian authorities say militant groups like the so-called "Islamic State" have used social media to entice at least three dozen Malaysian Muslims to fight in what they call "jihad" in Syria and Iraq. As Mahi Ramkrishnan reports from Kuala Lumpur, counterterrorism police are deeply worried about what could happen when these militants return home.
Video

Video Could US Have Done More to Stop Rise of Islamic State?

President Obama says airstrikes against Islamic State militants in Syria will likely continue for some time because, in his words, "there is a cancer that has grown for too long." So what if President Obama had acted sooner in Syria to arm more-moderate opponents of both the Islamic State and the Syrian government? VOA State Department Correspondent Scott Stearns reports from the United Nations.
Video

Video Treasure Hunters Seek 'Hidden Treasure' in Central Kenya

Could a cave in a small village in central Kenya be the site of buried treasure? A rumor of riches, left behind by colonialists, has some residents dreaming of wealth, while others see it as a dangerous hoax. VOA's Gabe Joselow has the story.
Video

Video Ebola Patients Find No Treatment at Sierra Leone Holding Center

At a holding facility in Makeni, central Sierra Leone, dozens of sick people sit on the floor in an empty university building. They wait in filthy conditions. It's a 16-hour drive by ambulance to Kailahun Ebola treatment center. Adam Bailes was there and reports on what he says are some of the worst situations he has seen since the beginning of this Ebola outbreak. And he says it appears case numbers may already be far worse than authorities acknowledge.
Video

Video Identifying Bodies Found in Texas Border Region

Thousands of immigrants have died after crossing the border from Mexico into remote areas of the southwestern United States in recent years. Local officials in south Texas alone have found hundreds of unidentified bodies and buried them in mass graves in local cemeteries. Now an anthropologist and her students at Baylor University have been exhuming bodies and looking for clues to identify them. VOA’s Greg Flakus has more from Waco, Texas.
Colonel Steve ‘Spiros’ Pisanos left Greece and came to the U.S. to learn to fly. He flew fighters for the Allies in World War II, narrowly escaping death multiple times.Colonel Steve ‘Spiros’ Pisanos left Greece and came to the U.S. to learn to fly. He flew fighters for the Allies in World War II, narrowly escaping death multiple times.

AppleAndroid

World Currencies

EUR
USD
0.7866
JPY
USD
109.25
GBP
USD
0.6139
CAD
USD
1.1120
INR
USD
61.428

Rates may not be current.