When most people think about espionage, they think about government entities using spies to gather information on one another, eventually leading to the spilling of secrets and sometimes the erosion of privacy.
But it’s actually a lot more common than people think.
We spoke with Conflict International’s US Director Stephen Komorek about what goes on behind the scenes pertaining to companies… and governments… guarding their secrets.
Conflict International is a private investigation/ intelligence firm that specializes in these exact kinds of online threats.
“Every single day, precious valuable data and information is susceptible to end up in the wrong hands. Most clients and exploitable assets don’t even know that it’s happening. That’s where we come in,” Komorek said. “Most of our senior teams are comprised of intelligence professionals that have crossed-trained in different disciplines.
Why is that important?
“An analyst, counter intelligence (CI) and counter espionage (CE) professional will look at the same document and pull different actionable intelligence from it. Cross-training and having years of experience in different disciplines allow us to provide the highest benefit to our clients.”
Komorek’s team has engaged in countless operations to try and find weaknesses within corporations and government-controlled subsidiaries. When they find them, they work to eliminate those weaknesses.
Conflict International specializes in something called red teaming, which essentially looks at the company through the eyes of someone who wants to exploit it.
“We use something called red teaming to try and highlight holes within security mainframes,” Komorek said. “It’s not uncommon for these failures in security to come in the form of penetrable access points using technology or even employees being sucked into social engineering scams.”
Tests include penetration testing, locating physical and electronic vulnerabilities or using trickery and deception to locate and exploit assets within the company.
Komorek says that during Conflict International’s time working alongside these companies, they’ve seen it all.
“You might have someone who feels shortchanged about something going on within the company or is angry at their superiors,” he said. “That person may be more susceptible to outside threats that could cause detrimental harm to the core of the business.”
But vulnerable employees aren’t always the main point of weakness. Komorek says the deeper types of corporate espionage cover things like gaining access to competitor property, accessing files without permission, recording confidential information and more.
Fortune 100 companies and extensions of government agencies are usually armed to the teeth with corporate security professionals, Komorek noted.
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These employees go through rigorous training to become experts in defending against outside threats.
“A lot of the individuals who become security consultants for major corporations go through extensive training over their career. Having that training from both the military and government myself, bringing that expertise back to private sector is valuable.”
Komorek told us about how easily some people divulge private information.
“People love to talk about themselves,” Komorek said. “I was sitting in an airport in general aviation when a pilot, who was our ‘target’ for exploitation, sat down. I started talking with him, let him talk about himself for nearly an hour. I made myself seem insignificant and he just opened right up. He revealed company secrets and information about a current confidential project that he was working on.”
Komorek says that whether in government, corporation, or the small business, they can create the custom solutions to keep privacy alive.
“We don’t like to see anyone get exploited for any means, so we’re in the business of stopping that from happening,” Komorek finished. “The profession doesn’t matter. We can even work alongside your current security consultants to help keep you protected.”
For more information on keeping your business safe from social engineering scams and vulnerable employees, visit the Conflict United States website.