YOUR WORKPLACE – Spy vs. Spy: the murky line between competitive intelligence & corporate espionage



Industrial secrets are being stolen through cyber attacks in Canada every day. And in many instances, it is Canadians ripping one another off.

Daniel Tobok, chief executive officer at Cypfer, a Toronto-based cybersecurity consultancy, says Canadian companies are spending — in somecases — millions of dollars annually to steal their rivals’ intellectual property.

“We’ve been involved in cases where companies have gone very far to build infrastructure to spy on their [top] one or two competitors. In one particular case, which was settled out of court, they were spending $5 million a year on this intelligence, but it actually yielded them a ROI of about $100 million … using the [stolen] tactical data of pricing, strategy, marketing.”

This happens more than you think.This is not just in the movies, this is not just in the U.S. — in Canada this is happening on a daily basis. It’s a very lucrative business.”

Tobok says, “Literally 99% of these [cases] get settled out of court.” And that makes sense. Neither side wants it public — because either they’re acting as thieves or their defences have been revealed as weak. “People really want to keep it under wraps,” he says.”

In the old days, a competitor had to implant somebody and go through your garbage to find competitive information.Those days are gone. Everything is so much easier now to do through digital means … using what I would call ‘military-grade tools and software.'”

The objective here is financial gain from theft of intellectual property and competitive advantage. This is a growing problem in Canada. It’s usually going undetected — most companies don’t even know it’s happening.”

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