Thursday Jan 06, 2011

Renault under threat from industrial espionage, intellectual property the target

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Last year we saw news of both General Motors and Ford losing a significant amount of valuable information to competitors overseas. Within weeks of the turn of 2011 we see the European car manufacturer, Renault, also suffering. In a recent news report, French Industry Minister Eric Besson warned the country was facing "economic war" and referenced a serious case of espionage which concerns information pertaining to the development of electric cars.

Renault senior vice president Christian Husson told the AFP news agency that the people concerned were in a "particularly strategic position" in the company. An investigation had uncovered a "body of evidence which shows that the actions of these three colleagues were contrary to the ethics of Renault and knowingly and deliberately placed at risk the company's assets", Mr Husson said.

A source told Reuters on Wednesday the company is worried its flagship electric vehicle program, in which Renault with its partner Nissan is investing 4 billion euros ($5.3 billion), might be threatened. This casts a shadow over the estimated losses of Ford ($50 million) and General Motors ($40 million).

One executive in the corporate intelligence-gathering industry, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said: "It's really difficult to say it's a case of corporate espionage ... It can be carelessness." He cited a hypothetical example of an enthusiastic employee giving away too much information about his job on an online forum.

While information has always been passed and leaked, inadvertently or on purpose, the rise of the Internet and social media means corporate spies or careless employees are now more likely to be found out, he added.

We are seeing more and more examples of where companies like these need to invest in technologies such as Oracle IRM to ensure such important information can be kept under control. It isn't just the recent release of information into the public domain via the Wikileaks website that is of concern, but also the increasing threats of industrial espionage in cases such as these. Information rights management doesn't totally remove the threat, but abilities to control documents no matter where they exist certainly increases the capabilities significantly. Every single time someone opens a sealed document the IRM system audits the activity. This makes identifying a potential source for a leak much easier when you have an absolute record of every person who's had access to the documents.

Oracle IRM can also help with accidental or careless loss. Often people use very sensitive information all the time and forget the importance of handling it correctly. With the ability to protect the information from screen shots and prevent people copy and pasting document information into social networks and other, unsecured documents, Oracle IRM brings a totally new level of information security that would have a significant impact on reducing the risk these organizations face of losing their most valuable information.

Thursday Jul 15, 2010

Former MI6 man Daniel Houghton discloses thousands of top secret documents

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Shocking news just reached me that 25 year old Daniel Houghton working for MI6, the British Government Secret Service, has said he was "directed by voices" after admitting charges of unlawfully disclosing top secret material. The judge said his chances of jail time are "inevitable"!

Daniel seems to have been driven by greed in an attempt to sell documents he had been collecting (later found on a USB key and a hard disk at his home) to the Dutch intelligence services for £2M GBP ($3M USD). The Dutch then tipped off MI5, the Military Intelligence boys who in turn had a word in the ear of MI6...

He was then bugged and filmed him as he displayed the files and offered to provide them with lists of MI5 agents he had worked with. The price was negotiated down to £900,000 and immediately after Houghton handed over the files on 1 March he was arrested while carrying a suitcase containing the cash. This is the stuff of the movies!

Police were stunned to discover the top-secret information he had casually taken, including 'techniques for intelligence collection' and personal information about spies, stashed under the double-bed in his small bedroom. There were over 7,000 files they collected from his home flat, and who knows what other data they may not have recovered. How on earth was someone with Daniel Houghton's character get employed with one of the worlds most powerful secret services? Gordon Corera, security correspondent for the BBC says, "But even though he was easily caught, the fact that he was recruited into MI6 and then was able to smuggle so much information out of the building will raise questions about how tight security and vetting procedures really are at the Secret Intelligence Service."

Of course this story could have been very different if those documents had been protected with an information rights management solution like Oracle's. Oracle IRM is a perfect technology to allowing national security agencies to protect their most valuable data and last year an agency in Mexico, who are in the middle of a serious national security problem with the drugs wars, purchase Oracle IRM for this exact reason.

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