Protecting customer lists in private banks and trusts

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Protecting customer lists in private banks and trusts

The average cost of a single incident of economic espionage to a non- manufacturing company is $500,000.00. At $300 billion total annual loss, this would mean that there could be upward of 600,000 incidents. Since there are also losses in manufacturing companies (the average loss there, for those interested, is $50 million), the number of incidents is less than 600,000 a year, but still more than will fit in a cigar box.

Why is this of interest to private banks and trusts? Because they have a lot of information that is desirable to steal, starting with customer lists and their associated account contents.

This information is important to many sets of players. For example, customer lists are of value to competitors, because it gives them names of people to whom they can sell their competing services. They are also of value to bad people, who may be looking for new victims. In some cases the information would be of value to political enemies, or even to the press.

This information becomes even more valuable if you have good detailing of the assets being managed. Again, this information is of value to competitors, adversaries – political or criminal – and the media (how pleased would the tabloids have been to have gotten this information about Princess Di, or any other person in the public eye).

How likely is this to be a problem in your organization? There is a very high probability – approaching unity – that there is nobody in your organization tasked to deal prevent and deal with economic espionage, so more likely than not that you are already a victim. And spies steal your information, not for fun, so they usually have a client for the information before they steal it, so once it has been stolen it will quickly be in use.

How badly can this hurt you? If you accept the figure of $500,000.00 lost in each incident, the question is really how many hits of this size can you take before it causes you problems. If you are a really big company, you might never really be aware of it: People will lose accounts, you will fire them, and go on without even knowing that you had been victimized.

The good news is that losses from economic espionage can be significantly reduced. The bad news is that economic espionage doesn’t reduce itself spontaneously, and someone has to be specifically tasked with preventing and dealing with it, and who is empowered to bring in people like us who know the espionage business and how to help deal with it.

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