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Q&A with Dr. Donald Fisher: Protecting Your Company from Corporate Espionage

Dr. Donald Fisher is Executive Director/CEO of Mid-South Quality Productivity Center – a partnership of the Greater Memphis Chamber and Southwest Tennessee Community College with a mission to champion market excellent for organizations in the Mid-South region by offering Baldrige-based assessments, consulting, quality/productivity enhancements, corporate development and employment development. Dr. Fisher was recently recognized by the National Institute of Standards and Technology for his research on corporate espionage, also known as the infiltration of organizational intelligence. He joins us today to answer some questions about corporate espionage and to share what steps you can take to protect your company. Click here to read the full article on Baldrige for Detection and Prevention of Corporate Espionage.
1. What began your interest in corporate espionage?
While working on my Ph.D. dissertation, I spent several months at the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) Headquarters reading the personal files and dossiers of J. Edgar Hoover.  J. Edgar Hoover was the first Director of the FBI and he established many of the early intelligence standards for the Bureau that became the foundation on how intelligence data/information is collected today. I was one of the first researchers at the FBI approved under the Freedom of Information Act. I could see early on the importance of safeguarding corporate intelligence because many organizations had been so easily infiltrated by FBI surveillance.
2. Why should our members be concerned about corporate espionage?

Organizations need to look at protecting their copyrights, trade secrets, regulated information (e.g., patient data), FDA scores, and other classified information; to identify risk; and to look at data security, asset management/control, the business environment, training, risk assessment, information protection processes, protection of technology, and strategy. Then they need to ask themselves about security, continuous monitoring, and detection processes. What’s in place? What’s not in place? What kind of response do they have inside the organization? What are the ongoing security issues? What about response/recovery time and communication with employees, customers, and vendors?
3. Can you share a little about your research on this topic?
In addition to conducting extensive research on corporate espionage at the FBI and having a keen interest in the topic, I have conducted over 200 Baldrige-based assessments around the world within various industries and government agencies, universities, educational institutions, manufacturing, and service organizations and have witnessed various possible security breaches.  A lot of security breaches are internal, with companies losing their intellectual capital, copyright protection, and patents. Often these companies, and especially Fortune 500 companies, hire external experts to come in and do a security assessment, but this really should happen internally by the people who are most knowledgeable about the organization.
4. If a member is looking to protect their organizational intelligence, what should their first step be?
The first step that an organization should take to protect their corporate intelligence is to take an inventory of all their various copyrighted, trademarked products/services, trade secrets, and intellectual knowledge and property that defines the unique way that an organization conducts business.  The second and probably the most important step is to conduct an in-house corporate espionage assessment that will help an organization identify its various weaknesses and vulnerabilities.  
5. What resources are available for organizations looking to protect themselves from corporate espionage?
I recommend identifying and benchmarking organizations that have been recognized as “Best Practice” in protecting their corporate intelligence.  In addition, companies can review the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) Framework for “Improving Critical Infrastructure Cybersecurity” that was published on February 12, 2014.  The Framework focuses on using business drivers to guide cybersecurity activities and consideration of cybersecurity risks as part of an organization’s risk management process. Click here for more information.
Did you know that Greater Memphis Chamber members receive discounts on the products and services provided by MSQPC? Click here to learn more.

Posted: 8/9/2016 11:19:11 AM | with 0 comments
Filed under: baldridge, corporate, data, Donald, Dr., espionage, Fisher, MSQPC, security

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