Spies Among Us: Modern-Day Espionage

Long after the Cold War’s end, nations still send secret agents across borders. But corporations, terrorists, and private investigators are also part of the sleuthing underground. Newsweek takes a look at who’s spying on whom; the section on corporate espionage is perhaps the most interesting:

Spying isn’t just the stuff of war and international politics. While researching his 2010 book Broker, Trader, Lawyer, Spy: The Secret World of Corporate Espionage, journalist Eamon Javers uncovered the dealings of private-sector spy firms employed by companies to detect deception in negotiators, surveil competing investors, and glean intelligence that could give them an edge in their dealmaking. Espionage has become so ubiquitous in the corporate world, Javers says, that billion-dollar merger-and-acquisition deals are almost never made these days without highly skilled spies getting involved.

Using some of the most sophisticated technology in the world (like a laser that can record conversations from a kilometer away by picking up the slightest vibrations on an office window), these firms are staffed almost entirely by former military and intelligence officials, from the U.K.’s MI5 to Russia’s KGB. The CIA even has a policy that allows its analysts to “moonlight” for major corporations. And there’s no shortage of demand. One hedge-fund executive told Javers he used corporate spies to keep tabs on the entire board of directors for every company he invested in. “There is even a whole network of people who do nothing but track corporate jets,” Javers says.

It’s not only competitors snooping around these major corporations. Both Earnest and Javers say foreign governments regularly spy on U.S. companies. “The Chinese have an extremely elaborate intelligence network aimed at penetrating defense and technology firms,” Javers says. “Every piece of technology they steal is a piece they don’t have to invent for themselves.”…

[continues at Newsweek]


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