Information Collection in Corporate Warfare

In  Corporate warfare the way in which  a company in one country acts towards competition is determined by that company’s and country’s ethical values. An action of a competitor in one country  may be construed as industrial espionage and in another country it may amount to terrorism, whereas in certain countries this may just be the usual practice in which they gather information on competitors.

How data is collected from competitors may vary in legality from country to country.

Information is collected in Corporate Warfare in the following ways:

1. Passive Intelligence

Recorded data ie published data

  • Competitors’ brochures
  • Court Records
  • Annual Reports
  • Periodically downloading of public World Wide Web servers and public file
  • Monitoring archives belonging to the competitor
  • Collecting open source  information  such as articles and news on internet
  • Analyzing additional information available about readers who visit your website
  • Mapping competitors by  finding their  partners, vendors and customers by searching internet for pages with links to the competitor
  • Eavesdropping and filtering the information flow in USENET news and mailing lists
  • Open analysis of a competitor’s network and its users by examining information issued by  look-up services on internet.
  • Mapping competitors customers on social media platforms.
  • Using cache-servers and setting up the necessary parameters regarding the competitor.
  • Using  standard crawler, a search-robot and follow the competitors document’s links to other pages.
  • Using crawlers for mirroring gopher and FTP-services to gain supplementary information and to see if it is possible to extract more information from the internet servers file directory
  • Searching through archives and google news and newspapers home pages for keywords that are connected to the company being monitored
  • Searching other archives such as journals, research papers, company-related publications and local publications on the internet
  • Sometimes  publications from competitors give very detailed information about what they have bought or sold or what kind of joint venture or mergers or acquisitions are in the pipeline.
  • Publicly available software like  nslookup – gives a simple interactive access to a DNS-server (Domain Name Service); dig – “Domain Internet Grouper”, is a program that has many similarities to nslookup; doc – “Domain Obscenity Control”, is a script that uses dig, looking for and finding failures in the configuration of a DNS-structure; host – is not as advanced in its function as nslookup and dig, but is enough for getting information from a DNS-server.
  • If a competitor’s  inner network are not secure and open towards the Internet on an ICMP-level (Internet Control Message Protocol), then it is it possible for competitors on the outside with traceroute and similar functions to estimate the number of addresses in use and how these addresses are segmented in different subnets. The subnet segmentation can give indications about what kind of computer systems are in use in one office or different offices in different buildings. This information can be assembled used together with the information acquired from the DNS-server and mail-servers, and this can give a much clearer picture of the network and the organization within that company
  • Annual reports
  • Press releases
  • Newspaper articles
  • Analyst reports
  • Regulatory reports
  • Government reports
  • Presentation / speeches

2. Semi Active Intelligence

Opportunistic data

  • Elicitation of information using email and telephone calls in the form of disclosures made by competitors’ employees, and obtained without deception
  • Reports of salesmen and purchasing agents
  • Pricing / pricing lists
  • Advertising campaigns
  • Promotions
  • Tenders
  • Patent applications

3. Active Intelligence

Observable data and opportunistic data

  • Market surveys and consultants’ reports
  • Financial reports, and brokers’ research surveys
  • Trade fairs, exhibits, and competitors’ brochures
  • Analysis of competitors’ products
  • Legitimate employment interviews with people who worked for competitor
  • Disguised questioning and ‘drawing out’ of competitors’ employees at technical meetings
  • Overt surveillance
  • Hiring competitors employees to acquire specific know how
  • Mapping competitors internal networks in connection with projects or consultancy
  • Meeting with suppliers
  • Trade shows
  • Sales force meetings
  • Seminar / conferences
  • Recruiting ex-employees of competitors
  • Discussion with shared competitors
  • Social contact with competitors

4. Grey zone

  • Trespassing on competitors premises
  • Bribing competitors employees and suppliers
  • Inserting a mole in competitors organization
  • Eavesdropping
  • Blackmail
  • Extortion
  • Industrial espionage
  • Phony job interviews
  • Using private investigators and detectives  to extract specific information
  • Fake negotiations with competitors for license
  • Covert surveillance
  • Accessing competitors internal pages on internet with a false identity or an identity used by the competitor’s customers

Vivek Raghuvanshi

www.corporaterisks.info

2 Responses to “Information Collection in Corporate Warfare”

  • Stephen says:

    In the ‘Active Intelligence’ area you might add ‘Sexual Persuasion’. A Sexual influence deeper than just ‘Social Contact’ is not necessarily criminal for Blackmail purposes only (that would belong in the Grey Zone); it can be benign but allow penetration into otherwise secure areas. Sexual means has been a long-used tactic throughout history. Whenever sex is able to be added to the mix there is always a rise, such as in access to sensitive areas and in the gathering of otherwise taboo information hidden beyond normal vision. There is a danger that the innermost key to a company’s heart can be dangling below the belt, exposed in unsafe positions. The hard-core practicalities of any company can be compromised by the soft-core fantasies of romance.

  • Very right Stephen,

    We cannot overlook the use of MICE:

    Money
    Ideology
    Compromise
    Ego

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