Thursday, July 16, 2009

Who do you TRUST?

Corporate Espionage

Who do you Trust?

With the ever available use of the internet and the secrets it can subsequently reveal, major corporations are becoming more reclusive when giving away the secrets of the trade to new employees. Even large companies like the Hilton Hotel are being subpoenaed for stealing trade secrets from rival hotel companies which indicates no company large or small is in the clear of corporate espionage. While many trade secrets have become well known, there are still many companies that hide their secret recipes, fabric methods, or even technological advances so that they can dominate their own industry. There is therefore a high price to pay if anyone happens to steal their specific “recipe” to sell to a rival company.

In modern society, stealing from a rival company has become almost commonplace but the social stigma attached to this has not changed. It is difficult to keep any secret in such a digital age wherein hackers can access your files from an obscure location, which makes it even more important to large companies to secure their trade secrets in locations that cannot be breached. Additionally, hiring employees that are seemingly trustworthy (which is difficult to discover) while still keeping them at a distance until they have proven their worth is an important step to take when replacing staff members. It is also important to keep your staff happy at all times; the moment they get denied a pay raise or get extra work for no commission they will begin to get lured away by rival companies who are anxious to hear all about their exclusive interaction with your company. Even the most dedicated employees can get angry about a lack of pay raise and opt to instead get paid heartily for their simply knowledge of the company.

Corporate espionage does not have to be entirely about corporate spies “sneaking” into your building after hours to invade your files but instead typically revolve around the disgruntled employee. Large corporations like McDonalds do not have to hide any trade secrets because they employ so many individuals around the nation that it would be difficult to hide such a secret from rival fast food chains. Rather, in the beginning of the industry’s arrival, many companies shared secrets that guaranteed success while still making individualized food. Sometimes, however, an employee from an entirely unrelated industry will manage to steal important documents and attempt to sell them to a rival firm. This happened in 2001 after a catering company employee stole an undisclosed plan for a $1 billion alliance between MasterCard and Disney in an attempt to sell it to Visa. It therefore becomes obvious that corporate espionage can happen in the most obscure ways which is why companies need to protect their finances and strategies from outside sources.

This post was contributed by Britney Wilkins, who writes about the online college. She welcomes your feedback at BritneyWilkins81 at

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