From Europe

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From Europe 

Competitive Intelligence

An interesting story by Alf Young in Glasgow’s Sunday Herald ( mentioned a piece – the content of which doesn’t matter for this particular article – that he had written a quarter of a century ago.

“Roche didn’t dispute my numbers. But it did fly a team of four senior UK executives to Glasgow in a company jet to confront me and my editor.”

They were about to accuse me of some damaging industrial espionage, when I pointed out that my numbers were all from published sources. The only trick was knowing where to look and adding all the component parts up.”

Reporters are good at gathering information. They are, in fact, as good as the people you hire to staff your competitive intelligence department, who are, you hope, as good as the people that your adversaries and competitors hire to staff their competitive intelligence groups.

The last time we needed to rent a Gulfstream 5, corporate jets (and their crews and maintenance) didn’t come in Cracker Jacks boxes, and senior managers tended to be a bit pricey. Based on our dealings with pharmaceutical giants here in the U.S., it is a safe guess that the amount of money spent on that trip twenty-five years ago is greater than what Roche will spend this year on OPSEC.

Economic Espionage

A story in the Observer discussed a clear case of economic espionage in Italy (,,1712962,00.html). There was a very professional break-in (captured on the security cameras) at a flower grower’s, stealing the computer (as well as floppy disks and CD- ROMs ) which contained customer lists, pricing information, and information about rare flowers and the development of hybrids.

Were the various pieces of media encrypted? We would guess not. After all, we are talking about flowers here, not nuclear secrets. Since the (incorrect) perception is that spies only steal military secrets, there would have been no perceived need for this company to implement an OPSEC program, identify adversaries that would do such a thing, and develop appropriate countermeasures to deal with the threat. If major US corporations don’t bother to do so, in spite of SEC requirements, why would an Italian flower grower?

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