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TUCoPS :: Spies! :: spytop10.txt

The top 10 things that corporate spies don't want their targets to know!

Who are these snoops?

Competitors, vendors, investigators, business intelligence consultants,
colleagues vying for positions, overbearing bosses, suspicious partners,
the press, labor negotiators, government agencies. The list is long.

Why would I be a target?

Money and Power are the top two reasons behind illegal surveillance. If
anything you say or write could increase someone else's wealth or
influence, you are a target.

Is snooping common?

Yes. The news is full of stories about stolen information. In fact, many
news stories themselves begin with leaks.

Can I protect myself?

Yes. Espionage is preventable. If you know the vulnerabilities, you can
take the proper security precautions. Some spy tricks are obvious, if you
stop to think about it. Some are clever abuses of the new technology we
live with every day. All are devastating.

Time has shown that many of the same tricks are used successfully over and
over again. We present the top ten. Prepare to fight back.

#1 - Trash Trawling

Dumpster diving, waste archeology, or trashing, all refer to rifling
garbage in an effort to cull valuable information. This is believed to be
the number one method of business and personal espionage.

Surprise. In and of itself, stealing garbage is legal. On May 17, 1988 the
U. S. Supreme Court confirmed that there is no expectation of privacy, or
ownership, once an item is left for garbage pickup. Scraps of seemingly
useless information are synergistically related. The counterespionage
process is one of reducing the availability of these puzzle parts.
Shredding all waste paper is a major step in the protection process.

Recommendations & Tips

Encourage the destruction of all waste paper. Purchase shredders
appropriate for your needs. Use crosscut destruction for high levels of
security. Computer paperwork and large volume waste require a central bulk
shredder. Snoops love it when you save confidential papers in a cardboard
box under the desk. Shred it now. Do not entrust wastepaper destruction to
paper recycling vendors. Destroy it before recycling. Don't forget: you
also need shredders next to copiers and in the executives' home
offices. The big shredder purchasing mistake... Buying just one large
shredder for everyone to use. Reason: Not everyone will use it. Why? Some
people are too busy to be bothered. The better choice is several convenient
desk-side shredders. This is one perk / status symbol which has a very
positive payback. Bonus... Some companies promote their use of shredders
for protecting their clients' privacy. A service not offered by

#2 - Bugs & Wiretaps

Although most snooping involves other methods listed in this briefing,
electronic surveillance is the most devastating spy trick there is. Very
private - and irrefutable - secrets are the target of this attack.

Common mistake... Saying, "Oh, I'm just being paranoid," when you suspect
electronic surveillance. Think... You wouldn't be suspicious if everything
were fine. Something is wrong.

Course of Action...

Do not discuss your suspicions with others unless they have a real need to
know.Do not discuss suspicions in suspected areas.Do not attempt a
do-it-yourself solution.Do not waste money buying spybuster toys.Seek
professional guidance without delay. Contrary to what you see on
television, in the movies, or in catalogs, detection of bugs and wiretaps
is equipment and knowledge intensive work. Expect a professional sweep team
to have about $100,000 dollars invested in their instrumentation. Their
personnel will have deep experience in security, investigations,
electronics and telecommunications.

Hint: Don't bother to check the yellow pages. Contact a corporate security
director or professional security organization for a knowledgeable
recommendation. It's worth the effort. We hope you will consider Murray
Associates services too.

#3 -The Drop By Spies

Check - and photocopy - the credentials and work orders of anyone
performing technical work in or around your offices. Double check. Verify
the work was actually requested and necessary. This includes:

telecommunications technicianscomputer techniciansoffice equipment repair
personspaper recyclerscleaning crewselectricianset cetera

Have someone representing your interests accompany these visitors while on
your property. If possible, have them complete their work during normal
business hours. Outside contractors and unauthorized company employees
should never be allowed to roam unescorted within areas containing
sensitive information.

One professional snoop brags openly that any building can be entered at any
time, simply by posing as the air conditioning / heating guy. His props
include a clipboard with forms and an industrial thermometer. Optional: a
2-way radio and a hard hat. If challenged, he threatens not to come back
for three weeks. Busy schedule, you know. No one wants responsibility for
denying this guy entry.

Other tips...

Check your locks and alarm system regularly. Make sure each component
really works. It is surprising how many effective-looking broken locks and
alarm sensors are relied upon for protection.If key control has long since
gone out of control, tackle the problem now. Change locks and set up a
system which will work. Consider card key access.When seeking assistance
with security matters, be sure to hire consultants who don't also sell
products, and who will not accept remuneration from companies they

#4 - Hacking & Cracking

Espionage aimed specifically at personal computers, laptop computers,
networks and remote access ports is rampant. Explain to everyone who keeps
sensitive data in their computers why security precautions are necessary.

Example: The protect your laptop at all times rule. Replacement cost is not
your only loss, consider the...

valuable competitive and confidential datatime it took for someone to
compile the datatime it will take to reconstruct the datacompany's modem
telephone numbers, and mainframe passwords are probably stored on the

When this information is lost, the company is vulnerable to...

wholesale theft / corruption of mainframe dataand sabotage via viruses,
Trojan horses, etc.

Bottom line:

Lower profitability.Reduced job security for everyone.

More computer security tips...

Develop a communal sense of security responsibility.Limit physical access
to computers by outsiders.Limit software access. Use quality
passwords.Secure PC related materials; disks, backups, etc.Never leave an
active terminal. Always log-off.Report suspected intrusions and altered
data.Remove sensitive data from the PC when not in use.Protect memory
media: floppies and optical disks.Copy commands can move sensitive data
inadvertently.Do not rely on deletion commands. Format instead.Erase disks
before disposal, or transfer to other use. Disconnect PCs from networks
when not in use.Computers using phone lines need access protection.Do not
use unsolicited or borrowed software.Backup all data on a regular
basis.Reformat hard drives before retiring old computers.Do not discuss
system security with anyone you don't know - no matter what they tell you.

Q. What is the first rule of espionage?

A. There are no rules. If you have what they want, they will use any means
to get it. - M. Russell

#5 - Mobile Phone Leeches

Cellular and cordless telephones are among the easiest of eavesdropping
targets. Contrary to common perception, reception of these conversations is
generally crystal clear, without static or interference. Each and every
word can be understood. Use them with discretion.

Cellular radio-telephone communications can be received by the general
public over hundreds of square miles. In addition to being an espionage
windfall, monitoring of these transmissions has also become a national
pastime with opportunistic hobbyists selling their "finds" as well.

Monitoring of cellular and cordless telephone transmissions is illegal. Do
not rely on the laws to protect your privacy, though. They are generally
considered unenforceable.

New techniques in cellular eavesdropping include computer assisted, totally
automated monitoring. This allows monitoring of specific phones, 24-hours a
day, from cell to cell, without human assistance. To protect car telephone

Arrange to call in on a number which is not answered with a company name or
other identifying information. Use first names and code words to identify
special projects. Speak in general and uninteresting terms.

Home cordless telephones can be received up to one mile away. Use them only
as an answering convenience. Switch to your regular telephone for increased
- not absolute - security.

If you must have a cordless phone, buy one which operates in the 900 MHz
frequency range using digital spread spectrum technology.

Other telephones which can be monitored include: Commercial airline and
rail telephones.Ocean liner phone calls.Long distance calls sent via
satellite.Long distance calls sent via microwave radio links.

#6 - Technology Traitors

Technological advancements give us many communications conveniences.
Portable telephones, for example. Unfortunately, they also bring new
opportunities for the snoops. Here are a few vulnerabilities you need to
know about...

Answering Machines. Messages left on many home units can be remotely
accessed using a simple two or three digit code. Easy to hack. Most people
never change the code which comes preset in new machines. Some units also
have a remote listen-in feature. Read your manual carefully.Voice Mail. The
business version of an answering machine can also be monitored. Use the
longest password possible. Change it often.Baby Monitors. In reality, very
sensitive room bugs which transmit 24-hours a day. Monitored by passing
burglars to see if the house is empty, and by nosy neighbors. Use monitors
sparingly. Plug the transmitter into a light timer. Keep baby's door
closed.Fax Machines I. Some fax machines use disposable rolls of black film
in their printing process. Used rolls contain an exact copy of all faxes
received.Fax Machines II. Receiving an after hours fax transmission is
similar to receiving mail without an envelope. Sensitive messages are
routinely read by bored guards and workers roaming around the building
burning up their overtime. Use a fax vault.Cordless Microphones. Presenters
at meetings love using them. Unfortunately, they transmit crystal clear
audio about a quarter mile. Ban them from any meeting to which the general
public would not be invited.Dictation Machines. You may shred the rough
drafts, lock up the file copies, and send the originals in security sealed
envelopes... but the dictation tape sits on the secretary's desk waiting to
be swapped.

#7 - Meeting Chameleons

Off-site meetings, conventions, trade shows, seminars, etc. present the
snoop with excellent opportunities for infiltration and information
collection. Alert your people to the problems. A simple briefing should
include the following advisories...

Off-site meetings are prime targets for snoops.Spy methods used may be
unethical or illegal.Security will control meeting room access (24
hours).Electronic eavesdropping detection will be employed.Attendees must
wear ID badges at all times.Never leave your laptop or briefcase
unattended.Leave written proprietary information with security.Proprietary
data should remain in the secured area.Do not discuss business in public
areas.Be suspicious of strangers who befriend you.Report suspicious
activity to security immediately.Define Proprietary Information for your
employees. It is information which is not general knowledge and is related
to the company's products, methods, customers, plans, etc. It is any
information which would cause the loss of profit, or a competitive
advantage, if it fell into the wrong hands.

#8 - The Silver Platter

Sometimes we just give information away. How many of the following items
apply to someone you know?

Unlocked offices, desks and file cabinets.Confidential paperwork left out
overnight.Posted, shared or simpleton passwords.Phone directories which
list everything but salary.Credit card, Social Security, and unlisted phone
numbers posted in Rolodex files left on desktops.Answering probing
questions over the phone from people they don't really know.Sensitive
topics discussed with known gossips.etc., etc., etc.

The list gets longer the more you think about it. Solution: Think about it,
the list will shorten.

#9 - Business Phone Attacks

Feature-rich business phones provide snoops with a variety of powerful
eavesdropping options. The phones themselves provide: electrical power;
built-in microphones and speakers which can serve dual purposes; and ample
hiding space for bugs and taps.

Telephone security checklist...

Provide high-level security for telephone rooms.Restrict direct dialing
into the main telephone switch. Some dangers of unauthorized phone system
access include:

   * Complete deprogramming of the switch.
   * Secret reprogramming to allow access to...
        * free calls,
        * voice mail,
        * executive override features (which allow forced access to busy
        * bridge tap creation (allows silent monitoring from other
        * hands-free intercom (allows room monitoring from other phones),
        * and monitoring of the station message detail recording which
          maintains a record of all phone calls.
   * Recommendation: Replace the regular dial-up modem - which connects the
     switch to the outside line - with a call back type modem. With this
     configuration, PBX connections are limited to authorized phone

Secure the on-site programming terminals.Be sure the System Administrator
is trustworthy.Conduct periodic inspections for wiretaps.Conduct surprise
audits of the software settings.Remove all unused wiring from sensitive
areas.Make sure that voice mail and switch access passwords are high
quality.Ask phone system users to report all suspicious calls and voice
mail aberrations to the security department immediately. In addition to
snooping, these may also be indications of hackers trying to enter to steal

#10 - Treason

Another type of spy - the trusted employee - is one of the most dangerous
and hardest to spot. The most likely candidates are employees who may...

Be disgruntled, possibly related to insufficient raises, promotions,
etc.Have incurred large debts due to gambling habits, unavoidable personal
circumstances, or drug use.Be involved with labor / management issues.Have
entrepreneurial personalities.

Protection tips...

Inspect for eavesdropping devices. These people have the time and
opportunity to place and monitor.Selectively drop false bits of information
and watch to see where they surface.Conduct background checks on all new
employees and periodic checks on anyone with access to sensitive
information.Check previous employment carefully.Uncover periods of
employment not mentioned.Verify periods of unemployment.Living beyond their
means may indicate extra income paid by the recipient of your business

The good news...

Espionage is preventable, and knowing a snoop's tactics is the first step
toward obtaining protection. You now have enough knowledge to begin that
process confidently.

                        What does a spy look like?

There is no exact answer, but a composite picture was developed by the
Business Espionage Controls and Countermeasures Association...

21-35 years old. Female as often as male.College graduate with a low-value
degree.Broad, short-term employment background.Money problems - low pay,
poor self management.Military intelligence experience.Acquaintances with
law enforcement backgrounds.Considered an outsider or loner.Disability
precluding a law enforcement career.No police record prohibiting sensitive
employment.Has driver's license, possibly a poor driving record.Romantic
hobby / interest. (Writer, photographer, sky diver, scuba, etc.)Collects
underground & paramilitary literature.An active interest in firearms, often
with training.Recruited from a want ad for Investigative Trainee.Often just
a drone of a professional handler.Abilities in music, chess, math, etc. -
skills associated with code breaking and espionage.

Keep this list in mind, but remember... Your snoop could be anybody.

                                   * * *

About the author...

Kevin D. Murray - CPP, CFE, CCO, BCFE has been solving electronic
eavesdropping, security and counterespionage matters for business and
government since 1973. His many written works include:

- Electronic Eavesdropping Detection section of The Protection of Assets
- Security Management magazine articles.
- Electronic Eavesdropping Detection and Industrial Espionage - The Missing
Business School Courses.

His course - Electronic Eavesdropping Detection & Industrial Espionage was
especially prepared for the John Jay College of Criminal Justice in New

Mr. Murray is a Board Certified Forensic Examiner; a Board Member of the
International Association of Professional Security Consultants; on the
advisory board of the Business Espionage Controls & Countermeasures
Association; and is a member of the American Society for Industrial

He may be reached via:
email -
Phone - 908-832-7900
Mail - PO Box 668, Oldwick, NJ 08858 (USA)

Murray Associates services are available to corporations and government
agencies only, throughout North America and selected foreign countries.

This briefing may be distributed freely... provided:
- all text, formatting, and this notice, remains intact;
- it is not used for commercial purposes;
- and the author is advised of the usage.
Thank you.

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