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How corporate spies access your company's secrets

David Geer | Feb. 4, 2015
Some information spies navigate the hiring process with every intention to steal corporate secrets for a competitor or foreign state once inside. Others turn against an employer when angered and leave, lured by job offers and incentives to haul out as much data as they can when they go.

To guard against disgruntled employees as spies, be nice to them. "A well-compensated, well-treated employee is far less likely to betray you," says Becnel.

Other approaches to stall corporate spying include having people sign non-compete agreements and posting corporate policies about the company monitoring and logging computer usage. "This may give a disgruntled employee some pause before dumping sensitive data onto a thumb drive before leaving to work for a competitor," says Becnel. It can also give companies legal recourse after the fact.

As for IT professionals, the enterprise can enable them to do their jobs without them seeing the data by using encryption and access controls that security, not IT, manages. "IT professionals don't need to see the data to back it up, for example," says Cates. By maintaining the encrypted state of the data and keeping the key in someone else's hands, an enterprise can prevent even systems administrators from becoming successful data spies.

Knowing who the spies could be may have to be good enough. Check, watch, and limit everyone so they can do only good. Know changing data to secure it successfully.


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