Most people assume that corporate espionage is just James Bond stuff. However, according to USA Today, even small and medium businesses are at risk. Spying has been going on since the beginning of time, and it’s alive and well today. In most cases, spying
starts because a person or entity needs or wants information that is otherwise kept confidential or private from prying eyes.
Most people have probably spied at some point in their lives. Maybe as children, rifling through siblings’ or parents’ closets and drawers. Or as teenagers, spying on a boyfriend or girlfriend in an attempt to determine why a first relationship wasn’t working
out. Or as parents, hoping to protect children from themselves. Hopefully this type of behavior subsides as we grow older and learn to trust others. But some people find serious reasons to spy as adults. This behavior can eventually culminate in stalking,
which is, of course, illegal and can end in tragedy.
There are plenty of tools to facilitate spying. There are more ways of gathering intelligence than ever before. An online search for “spy shop” or “spy store” turns up a vast collection of small wireless cameras, listening devices, software, and hardware
that can help the customer collect enough data on their target to do some damage, or uncover sensitive information.
Spyware is commercially available software that can track keystrokes, emails, and instant messages. In the wrong hands, it can be quite damaging. Keycatchers are hardware devices that can be installed in the back of a PC in order to record raw data.
It is necessary to monitor childrens’ Internet use, but an open dialogue is equally important. If a person has suspicions about his or her spouse, that’s an entirely different scenario, requiring a different set of rules. Be aware that if you spy or cheat
on a loved one, you ought to be prepared for the consequences.
Protecting yourself and your business from this type of spying is difficult, but possible. Always keep in mind that those on the “inside,” such as friends, family members, employees, or people who have special access and could potentially be paid off, like
a cleaning person or a security guard, can access sensitive data.
- Make sure that there are no mysterious hardware devices attached to your computer.
- Sweep your home for audio recording devices. You can either hire someone to do this, or do an online search for a tool that will help you.
- Password protect the administrator account on your computer, to prevent unauthorized software installation.
- Run a spyware removal program.
- Never leave file cabinets unlocked, or paper work lying around.
- Shed any document that may contain sensitive data before throwing it out.
- Lock down your wireless connections, since they are often the path of least resistance.
- Don’t disclose too much personal information on social networks, since that makes it easy for people to spy on you.
- Know that identity thieves have access to all these tools as well, so protect yourself. Get a credit freeze. Go to ConsumersUnion.org and follow the steps for your particular state. This is an absolutely necessary tool to secure your credit. In most cases,
it prevents new accounts from being opened in your name. This makes your Social Security number useless to a potential identity thief.