How to protect your business from commercial espionage
There is a well-known expression: who owns the information - owns the world. Having reliable data about a partner or future changes in the market is extremely important for any business, which is why business owners start competitive intelligence. However, it sometimes turns into the corporate espionage, which has probably nothing in common with competitive intelligence. What is the difference and how to protect your business from suspicious eyes – read below.
The invisible line
Although many people believe that corporate espionage (CE) and competitive intelligence (CI) are identical, in reality, this is not true. Indeed, despite the fact that the goals of these activities often coincide (extracting the most complete and reliable info about the activities of competitors), their methods differ. Many entrepreneurs try to protect their online mailing with different means as for example using long passwords or AVG VPN. Sometimes it really helps.
CE is a form of unfair competition because of the following:
- It aims to obtain and use the confidential data protected by law
- It aims to take advantage of carrying out business, as well as obtaining profit
This is where the difference between corporate espionage and competitive intelligence lies: CI is an activity within the legal field neither the CE is.
The means of corporate espionage
Experts in the field of CE mainly use such methods as:
- Bribing or blackmailing persons who have access to secret info
- Theft of various carriers with secret info
- Introducing an agent into a competing firm in order to obtain info that is a commercial secret
- Illegal access to commercially significant data through the technical means (telephone wiring, illegal entry into computer networks, etc.).
- Most often those who are engaged in commercial intelligence have understood that the only way to effectively work for a long time is to comply with the law. So, CI can use all methods of collecting and processing info that does not violate the laws.
Protecting your business communication
Your corporate communication may become the target of your competitors when it comes to the CE. Nevertheless, there are a lot of means to protect it: using double-authentication or corporate mailing services have to be supported by the means for online anonymity. For example, using VPN services may secure your browser activity by changing your IP address. You can install a VPN for both PC or smartphone to get remote access to corporate data.
Do not forget to change your password at least once a month: it will help you to follow the basics of online security.
Due to the development of the information technologies, analysts will soon replace the “James Bonds” in state intelligence services and in commercial intelligence for sure. Competitive intelligence will exist as long as an entrepreneurial activity. As Samuel Butler once said, “Any commerce is an attempt to foresee the future.” Competitive intelligence is a service that is designed to serve this purpose.