Industrial Espionage in India

In 2011, with the disclosure of 2G Telecom Scam and associated Niira Radia taped conversation, the Indian corporate world was jolted out of deep sleep. For the first time industrial espionage risks were evident to boards and senior management. A survey of KPMG indicated that 14% of the Indian companies were targets of corporate spying. The perpetrators generally target IT systems to obtain business critical information. Sometimes competitors resort to unethical practices to get competitive advantage. Sometimes, unknown external people attempt to sell the information to a bidder.

The idea of quick money makes many rationalize the white-collar crime. Even novices get hare-brained ideas of blackmailing senior management. Organizations protect themselves using the following strategies:

1.    Evidence against spies and blackmailers

The success of most crimes rests on perpetrators identity being undisclosed. Their criminal activities are untraceable. Novices however, do not have the fundamentals of criminal activity. They come on the forefront and show their own hand. That moment, their game is over. An organization can issue a legal notice to them or file a criminal case against the culprits.

2.    Too big for their boots

In India, logic is seldom used for participating in criminal activity. Sometimes, serial bullies with no work get together to find soft targets. They believe victims will part with money and property to have the pleasure of their company. The basic question arises- why will the victim not file a legal police complaint against them? Optimism quite frequently leads to delusion. No strategy, no resources and with just a capacity to be abusive, isn’t the best method to initiate a white-collar crime. However, one cannot have an argument with ignorant people.

3.    Finding moles

One of the common ways for perpetuating industrial espionage is of finding moles within the organization or ex-employees who are disgruntled. The belief is that they will be able to get information. This strategy works when competitors attempt it, as competitors provide protection and backing to the moles. However, a bunch of novices can’t be successful using this strategy since, data theft in India attracts criminal punishment up to 2-3 years. A regular employee knows the law and will not assist some small group in illegal activities.

Closing thoughts

Greed takes over people when it appears that there is some quick money to be made. However, before rationalizing the crime the consequences of the actions are not considered.

Organizations however need to be careful when dealing with such situations. Ensuring business sensitive information is protected and not available with third parties is critical to shield themselves.


Global Post – Industrial espionage booming in corporate India