Definition

industrial espionage

Industrial espionage is the covert and sometimes illegal practice of investigating competitors to gain a business advantage. The target of investigation might be a trade secret such as a proprietary product specification or formula, or information about business plans. In many cases, industrial spies are simply seeking any data that their organization can exploit to its advantage.

An industrial spy may be an insider threat, such as an individual who has gained employment with the company with the purpose of spying or a disgruntled employee who trades information for personal gain or revenge. Spies may also infiltrate through social engineering tactics, for example by tricking an employee into divulging privileged information. 

Spies sometimes physically breach the target organization and investigate the premises. In that case, a spy might search waste baskets or copy files or hard drives of unattended computers. Increasingly, the intrusion is through the corporate network. Typically, a  targeted attack is conducted to gain initial network access and then an advanced persistent threat (APT) is carried out for continued data theft. The capacity of cell phones to record and transmit can  also be exploited by leaving a phone in a boardroom, for example,  and monitoring a meeting remotely. Recording devices are also secreted in a variety of items including eyeglasses, pens and USB sticks. 

Industrial espionage is distinct from competitive intelligence (CI), which is confined to the gathering of publicly available information. 

This was last updated in October 2012
Contributor(s): Ivy Wigmore
Posted by: Margaret Rouse

Related Terms

Definitions

  • Heartbleed

    - Heartbleed is a vulnerability in some implementations of OpenSSL. Because OpenSSL is used by approximately 66% of all active websites on the Internet, many experts have called Heartbleed one of the... (SearchSecurity.com)

  • SYN flood (half open attack)

    - SYN flooding is a method that the user of a hostile client program can use to conduct a denial-of-service (DoS) attack on a computer server. (SearchSecurity.com)

  • Microsoft Security Essentials (MSE)

    - Microsoft Security Essentials (MSE) is an antimalware software product made by Microsoft that provides protection for client computers against viruses, worms, Trojans, spyware and other malicious s... (SearchSecurity.com)

Glossaries

  • Security threats and countermeasures

    - Terms related to security threats, including definitions about anti-virus programs or firewalls and words and phrases about malware, viruses, Trojans and other security attacks.

  • Internet applications

    - This WhatIs.com glossary contains terms related to Internet applications, including definitions about Software as a Service (SaaS) delivery models and words and phrases about web sites, e-commerce ...

Ask a Question About industrial espionage Powered by ITKnowledgeExchange.com

Get answers from your peers on your most technical challenges

Tech TalkComment

Share
Comments

    Results

    Contribute to the conversation

    All fields are required. Comments will appear at the bottom of the article.