Spy school surfaces corporate espionage tactics, defences

Ever-present news about malware and security attacks may have focused executives' minds on information security risks, but healthy interest in a new series of seminars dubbed Corporate Spy School serves as a reminder that information security is about a lot more than just protecting your emails.

"All it takes is a [surveillance] pen on the boardroom table and someone in the next room can potentially hear what's being said," Navid Sobbi, CEO of security risk-management firm Specialist Corporate Intelligence Agency (SCIA), told CSO Australia in the wake of the Security 2012 Exhibition, where SCIA debuted Corporate Spy School as a way of focusing executives' attention on the broader threat profile facing them.

SCIA's presence at Security 2012 drew a stream of enquiries and enrolments for CSS, which will begin before year's end as a regular series of seminars on specific topics related to physical and information-related security practice.

Already being floated are workshops in border security, industrial espionage, IT security, and other relevant areas that have emerged from SCIA's work using specialised equipment for tasks such as 'sweeping' company premises for listening or surveillance devices. Other relevant topics, such as CCTV and access control, will be covered with an eye to highlighting both current threats and defences.

"The corporate world is very relaxed, and all they're concerned about is viruses and malware," Sobbi explained. "We want to teach executives what can happen in a conference room when you're having a high-level meeting. Australians think this sort of thing never happens to them – but we're seeing it day in and day out. So we're doing Corporate Spy School as an education process."

The program may be light on spy-grade judo, weapons training and other 007 secrets, but it will complement the hands-on physical sessions with regular streams of educational podcasts, videos and discussion papers.

Their overall goal is to educate executives about the warning signs of corporate espionage, which can often be ignored until it's too late. More than half of respondents to the latest PricewaterhouseCoopers Global Economic Crime Survey said the most serious frauds they had encountered were inside jobs.

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