"Economic Espionage is the greatest threat to our national security since the Cold War." -- Louis Freeh, former FBI Director
The largest business crisis in America today is economic espionage. And that's downright criminal.
Last year, economic espionage and theft of trade secrets cost U.S. businesses more than $250 billion, and $1.2 trillion in the last decade. More than 56 percent of the Fortune 1000 admit to having been victimized; and it is more than likely that the other 44 percent are either too reticent to admit it or simply haven't yet discovered that they, too, have been targeted by corporate spies or thieves -- foreign and domestic. Sometimes the thieves are business competitors, sometimes rouge employees seeking to strike out on their own with your hard work, trade secrets and other intellectual property as their personal grubstake. Sometimes the spy works for a foreign nation or foreign-owned entity; and often the culprit is the business associate you trust most.
It's not hard to figure out why economic espionage carried out against U.S. companies is on a steady rise when you consider that the United States spends more money on research and development than all other G-8 countries (Canada, Japan, Britain, France, Germany, Italy and Russia) combined.
Can anything be done to stop economic espionage?
Stop it, no; stem it, yes.
The Economic Espionage Act (EEA) of 1996 was passed by Congress, at the urging of the FBI, in order to put some teeth into otherwise weak and ineffectual laws. The EEA now makes economic espionage a federal offense with stiff prison sentences and fines up to $10 million. But is it enough? Sadly, the answer is, "No." Economic espionage must be fought in the trenches one company at a time, and it is incumbent upon all at-risk companies to take steps to identify and protect important trade secrets and other intellectual property.
Companies must take proactive steps to reduce their risks.
Which companies are at risk? Those that are vulnerable go far beyond just defense contractors, high tech concerns, manufacturing facilities, computer companies, pharmaceutical manufacturers, chemical companies, food companies, or major industrial giants.
In fact, the only thing necessary for economic espionage to flourish is for a company to have at least one employee and/or at least one competitor. Specific industry groups do not matter. And medium-sized companies, who have the largest number of competitors, are most at risk
Lexicon Communications helps companies increase their security and protect their trade secrets, from vulnerability audits to education and training of employees, as well as offering support to victimized companies.