Remote Working and Corporate Espionage – Are You Prepared?

Coronavirus has pushed remote working to be the new norm. Companies had no alternative but to carry out their operations remotely to practice social distancing and control the spread of the virus among employees. Millions of people have been working from home since last year. Although employees get to benefit from flexibility along with few other perks, remote working has given birth to new challenges, particularly regarding cybersecurity.

Cybersecurity Challenges in Remote Working

Using Personal Devices

Most small businesses have limited resources and could not provide their employees with laptops and smartphones for remote working. Employees have to use their own devices, which are more prone to security leaks.

New Technology

Many companies have embraced new applications and software as a result of remote working. Inability to use these programs correctly or failure to have the right settings also poses a threat to security and creates gaps.

Increase Chances of Phishing Scam

Since emails are the most preferred means to stay connected to co-workers, frequent usage of email puts employees at risk of getting scammed via phishing.

Chances of Corporate Espionage

Although many people were able to maintain their jobs through remote working. A large number of companies and businesses shut down as well. As a result, many were unemployed, and some were on the list to be let go. Disgruntled employees fearing their loss of a job could resort to unethical activities such as corporate espionage. When and if a company has to let go a remote worker, they need to be quick and cut off their access to sensitive business data.

These issues can translate into bigger problems in the future. That’s why businesses should address them at their earliest to protect themselves against corporate espionage.

Corporate Espionage

In business, it is natural to stay on top of what your rival is doing. There is a reason competitive research is legal. But there is a fine line between legal research and data theft. Some companies are unable to differentiate between the two and end up opting for corporate espionage. There have been instances where annoyed employees tried to leak data to rival companies. But employers were using the Xnspy monitoring app on company-owned smartphones and caught the culprits on time. You could read XnSpy reviews to know more. The app is well-known software employers use to keep an eye on their remote workforce.

Coming back to corporate espionage, as per the Economic Espionage Act of 1996, it is a federal law that forbids the act of corporate espionage to steal sensitive business data or misuse the trade secrets of a company. So, if you are using illegal means to get information about your competitor, the law prohibits it. Say you send someone over to learn about competitors’ services. That is legal. But you cannot pay someone in the competitor’s company to steal data for you.

Corporate espionage has serious legal consequences, and one could end up paying huge amounts in fines along with a decade in jail.

Targets of Corporate Espionage

Usually, competitors are only interested in obtaining specific data and information. These targets are:

  • Trade Secrets

A trade secret is a type of intellectual property. It could be processes or information that is generally not known outside of a company. Anything that has inherent commercial value could be a trade secret. Suffice to say, a rival would pay handsomely to get their hands on information that makes your company money.

  • Client Data

When client information is leaked out, this could have devastating consequences for the business. Client data contains financial information, as well as email and home addresses.

  • Financial Information

Information about company’s pricing and pay structure could allow the competitors to out-bid and under-cut you in every deal.  

  • Marketing Information

Marketing ads need to be kept secret before they are run. If a rival company has prior knowledge, they could easily come up with an answer of their own and render the ad campaign useless.

Why Corporate Espionage is kept a Secret

Despite some high-profile cases in the news, most cases of corporate espionage are kept secret. There are several reasons companies are reluctant to admit that they have been spied upon. Furthermore, investigating and punishing corporate espionage can be difficult.

  • Violation of IT regulations

Companies are required by law to protect their client’s data. When this data is leaked, by whatever means, companies are liable to pay fines and may receive more scrutiny from government agencies.

  • Stock Price

When such incidents become public knowledge, it lowers the stockholder’s trust in a company. As a result, the company stock may drop. Even fresh potential clients may be hesitant to do business with the company.

  • Forensic Challenges

Corporate espionage cases can be incredibly difficult to prove and gather evidence against. In cases of stolen digital information, cybercriminals can use viruses or worms inside a company’s IT network to remain undetected while siphoning off information. To reveal and track the source of these intrusions is a monumental task for IT security professionals, with a low chance of success to begin with.

When an insider leaks information that they already have access to, this can be even harder to catch. Since the person uses the data and knowledge in their day-to-day tasks, it can be impossible to prove any wrongdoing in court.

  • Difficult to Prosecute Criminals

Cybersecurity laws vary from country to country. When foreign criminals or even governments are involved, these laws get even more complicated. All of this makes it incredibly hard to bring the perpetrators to justice.

Even when the attack is done by domestic elements, it can take years of legal proceedings and court ruling to get justice. This makes companies reluctant to pursue such cases.

Protecting Your Company

Corporate espionage can have severe consequences and harm a business significantly. To protect your company, one must have a plan in place to timely detect and interrupt any kind of unethical or illegal activity that indicates data leak or security breach. Here are a few tips:

  • Running Background Checks While Recruiting Employees

Do your due diligence and run complete background checks and check with the references provided by the candidate to know if they can be part of your company.

  • Training on Cybersecurity Practices

Conduct training sessions to educate employees regarding best cybersecurity practices. Also, make a point of monitoring all employee activity on the company-owned laptops and smartphones.

  • Clean Desk Policy

This shall give a guideline to employees on how they should be leaving their desks. For example, not leaving any important document lying around and logging out of their computers, etc.

The Best Method: Using Employee Monitoring Software

As mentioned above, monitoring company-owned laptops and smartphones has become the need of the hour. Using monitoring software is your best bet to dodge corporate espionage. There are tons of apps and software present in the market, such as Xnspy. You can check out reliable websites and portals to gather information.

Here is what a monitoring software shall do:

  • Monitor and record all the on-screen activities so you can know exactly what employees are doing, even from a distance. These apps are built for remote use. You can take screenshots that get you proof of any unethical or illegal activity.
  • You can manage correspondence and keep an eye on employee emails and messages. This way, you can know if their sentiments or loyalty towards your business have changed.
  • To identify insider threats, you can create alerts on certain phrases or codes. The software shall inform you the moment any suspicious activity takes place.

Even a single incident of corporate espionage could cost your business heavily. Data leaks can cost companies in millions of dollars. Do not wait until it is too late to protect your business. To monitor company smartphones remotely, pick Xnspy and check XnSpy reviews. Corporate espionage might be avoided if the essential safeguards are put in place in a timely manner.