Saturday, January 15, 2011

Protecting against industrial espionage

canadianmanufacturing.com
How do you prevent competitors from stealing your ideas?

When three executives at Renault in Paris, France, were suspended and accused of leaking key company information to China, it came as no surprise to those in the highly competitive automotive manufacturing industry.

While GM would not comment specifically on information about security initiatives citing competition, Jason Easton, corporate communications manager for General Motors of Canada Ltd., said “at GM of Canada we are very conscious of confidentiality and competitiveness issues. While many of these issues have always existed—automobiles are one of the highest technology retail products available to consumers—the mediums through which information can be transferred, and the speed at which this can happen, are the challenges that many companies face.”

Canadian Metalworking Online also contacted Ford Motor Company and Chrysler, but neither of the companies would provide comments about measures they take to protect against industrial espionage.

In the Renault case, the three executives were suspected of leaking information related to the company’s electric vehicle program. The multi-billion dollar program is a key part of Renault’s growth strategy and has been working with Japanese partner Nissan.

According to a Reuters press wire story on January 7, this isn’t the first time France’s car industry has been hit by information leaks. In 2007, a Chinese student doing a work placement at car parts maker Valeo was given a prison sentence for obtaining confidential documents from the automaker.

How do you protect your company and your manufacturing ideas from competitors?

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