Corporate Espionage in the Cyber Age

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Global Knowledge

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Article By Michael Gregg

Corporate spying is nothing new. Way back in the 1960s, General Motors (GM) spied on Ralph Nader when he spoke out against them.

What has changed is technology and the way it can be used to spy on others – like using the Internet to steal secrets.  Is there a point at which spying is okay and not an ethical or legal problem?

To answer this question, I would say that many security professionals believe that information in the public domain or carelessly placed in the cloud is considered fair game. 

Public domain information would include MySpace, Facebook, Twitter, Linkedin, etc.  People post a ton of information about themselves on the Internet, and most of it is not hard to find. 

As an example, in one of the books that I’ve written, I stated that I still have an 8-track player in my 1968 Camaro, and as a result, I had a client give me a box of 8-track tapes after reading the information I shared about myself.

The second category of information mentioned above is the cloud information.  Most of this data can be found using some basic Google queries with advanced operators such as intext, intitle, inurl, etc.

These terms can help you find information a user may not realize is publicly accessible on the web.  As an example, the “intitle:” operator instructs Google to search for a term within the title of a document.

The best way to prevent this type of legal spying is to keep sensitive data off the web.  If you place the data there, even temporarily, there’s a real chance it will get indexed and picked up by Google and other search engines.

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