The legs threat' in economic espionage_1_

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The legs threat' in economic espionage_1_ Powered By Docstoc
					The legs threat'
in economic espionage

                                           haps, used in their own countries            It could be the cleaners who were paid
                                           when they return from a Hong Kong            to deliver the contents of rubbish bins
                                           visit.                                       to a competitor, or merely the result
                                            Loyalty to the employer, he thinks, is      of cleaners selling discarded letters to
                                           at a premium in Hong Kong. Most em-          a paper merchant.
                                           ployees' loyalty is to the family and        The paper merchant could have a con-
                                           the Almighty Dollar, not the em-             tract to deliver from one firm to an-
                                           ployer.                                      other. Those receiving the discarded
                                            He says bosses should be careful who        letters could put two-and-two to-
                                           they talk to and what they say when          gether by reading and analysing over
                                           they do talk. It all boils down to pro-      a long period spoiled carbons that had
                                           per staff training in security : a securi-   merely been screwed up and thrown
                                           ty attitude has to be a trained one.         away.
                                           Barry James is Chief Consultant at the
                                           security consultancy firm called HKS
                                           Consultants, which is an autonomous          Freightening
                                           part of Hong Kong Security Group.              He says it is also rather frightening
                                           But he's quick to say that as con-            what a skilled interrogator can find
                                           sultants, his firm does not favour the        out by using a sprat of confidential
                                           parent group, unless it has an expertise       information to get somebody talking
                                           other commercial security agencies do             do    catch a mackerel.
 What Barry L.T. James, a local ethical-   not have                                      Chinese and Japanese people are
 ly-minded security consultant, des-       He says he invariably advises his clients     generally easily obligated to someone
 cribes as the "legs threat" appears to    to go out to tender for any services or       who does them a favour or entertains
 be the main way commercial and in-        equipment he may recommend they               them. They feel duty bound to do
 dustrial espionage is conducted in        need.                                         something in return, and to give in-
 Hong Kong : people just walk out          When HKS Consultants first began in           formation that costs the individual
 with vital knowledge of a competitor's    1982 it was the only security con-            little.
 plans either in their heads or on a       o n       firm listed in local business      Though Hong Kong may still be re-
 copy.                                     directories. But now seven or eight           latively unsophisticated at commercial
 Barry James doesn't think bugging de-     are listed and Barry James wonders           espionage the application of micro-
 vices are used all that much for eaves-   whether or not all will have the             processor technology is coming to the
 dropping, though those who do dis-        same ethical outlook he practices or          local business community. Barry
cover their plans have become known        have n vested interest in sales?             James warns about the loss of valuable
to their competitors do sometimes          He says when people come to him              "chips" in their course of manufacture
think they must have been bugged —         after having lost the confidentiality        affecting the electronics industry and
their telephone tapped or their room       of business secrets he usually finds         the need for security in firms provid-
bugged, for instance.                      it is not a tapped telephone or some         ing computer on-line data services.
He says most losses of information         other bug but a lack of office security      Access control, by using a simple card
happen by word of mouth. Yet bug-          that is to blame.                            issued to an employee with his photo-
ging devices are freely sold in certain    Barry James says it could be the boss's      graph, is easily enough defeated he
Hong Kong shops, ranging from any-         executive secretary who could have           says. Micro-processor technology has
thing as cheap as $50 to sophisticated     been unwittingly careless, or the boss       as a result begun to be used in Hong
bugs that pick up vibrations on win-       leaving a confidential letter on his         Kong for employee identification pur-
dow panes costing several thousand         desk.                                        poses. One method used so far identi-
dollars.                                   It could be a skilled interrogator who       fies the geometry of the employee's
Barry James says these devices are         grilled someone without his knowing          hand : no two hands are alike.
mainly     bought by tourists and          it, or who could have disarmed some-         He says other methods that could be
visiting businessmen. They are, per-       body by getting him drunk.                   adopted are devices that identify the

 way an employee writes his signature         blurred because there is as yet no             lem and she was the contest winner.)
 or that check the characteristics of his     international institute of security con-       Barry James says his clients include
 voice. Another method of identifying         sultants. Barry James is, however, a           banks and property companies, or just
  is the individual pattern of blood          Member of the Institute of Industrial         VIPs (Very Important Persons). Multi-
 vessels on the retina of the eye. De-        Security, a body incorporated by the          national companies are sometimes also
 vices using this factor have not yet be-      International Professional Security          concerned about their senior staff who
 come commonplace.                            Association. The latter has a very            may be a kidnap risk, not necessarily
  How soon these more sophisticated           active Hong Kong Branch.                      for political reasons but for a big
 electronic applications will come to         After a good consultant has surveyed          ransom.
  Hong Kong, Barry James says, will           and analysed a client's security prob-        He says Hong Kong has a colourful
 depend      largely on their       cost-     lems and made his recommendations             past history of piracy on the surround-
 effectivess. He says that as a security      he should help his client draw up             ing seas. But today shipping is virtually
 consultant he tries to optimise security     specifications so that he can call for        free of this menace. Singapore is a dif-
 for Hong Kong business, not to re-           tenders for whatever services or equip-       ferent story, because so many
 commend costly maximum security              ment may be needed.                           Indonesian islands are so close and
 measures that are overkill.                                                                protect pirates.
 Most Hong Kong firms do not so far                                                         Barry James emphasises his work is
 make much of a conscious effort to           Optimum                                       essentially preventive unlike the police
 look to their security. Most just              Barry James says the most cost-             who play a criminal investigative role
 muddle through until some important           effective designs for optimum security       as well as providing prevention.
 information or goods are lost. Then           should be made at the planning stage         He says local murders are not generally
 they may decide something has got to          for any development. In Hong Kong            political. In Hong Kong there exists an
 be done.                                      most consider security too late.             underground gangster world, not
  But their own expertise is not in             Personally, he finds this a little para-    political    terrorists. The gangster
  security. They could, as a result, end       doxical. The Hong Kong population as        world's motivation is money.
  up buying the wrong system. It could         a whole is very security conscious. He      The nearest Hong Kong has recently
  be sold by a security salesman, not a        says he's never been in a place so          come to political terrorism is the
  consultant. He says it is the consultant     riddled with metal gates, grilles,          threat of, e.g., the Japanese Red Army
  who can give independent and un-              barbed-wire, burglar bars on windows,      mounting a local attack, But the
  biassed advice that gives clients opti-       intercoms, peep-holes in front doors,      Japanese Red Army is now largely a
  mum security at a price they can             door chains, and even 10-feet high          spent force.
  afford to pay.                               perimeter walls, with broken bottles         He says little usually surfaces about
  Barry James says what a good security        cemented on top and guard dogs roam-        the industrial spy in Hong Kong who
  consultant does is make his own sur-         ing the yard.                               seeks information to copy other peo-
  vey and analysis of a client's problems.      He thinks this siege mentality is a        ple's new products. Most cases just do
  He does not necessarily accept what          legacy of a lack of law and order in        not become known, even of computer
  the client has to say.                       China from time to time in its history      fraud, because the victim seldom
  The good consultant is systems-              and the local high population density.      reveals what happened to him. He's
 oriented and is rather like a general         Everybody believes they must look           afraid it could affect public con-
  practitioner in medicine. He treats the      after themselves exclusively.               fidence in his firm. The same is prob-
 firm's security problems as a doctor        ' He says Hong Kong's iron bar syn-           ably true of kidnap victims who,
 would a patient's health problem. He          drome can have its dangers. For in-         after ransom is paid, remain quiet for
 recommends a specialist if it is a            stance, it blocks fire escapes. Burglar     fear of reprisals.
 specialist problem.                           bars that are not hinged can also block     Barry James thinks the trend in Hong
 A difference is that security consultants     escape from fire and smoke.                 Kong, as elsewhere, will be toward
 in Hong Kong do not have any ex-              Barry James says good security con-         more eavesdropping using electronic
 ternally defined standards like doctors.      sultants don't talk about their clients     devices but so far it's mainly the "legs
The fact that there are virtually no in-       and their unfortunate experiences nor       threat" and rumours on the stock
dependant standards has led to a de-           the security steps consultants may re-      exchanges.
bate on whether or not Hong Kong               commend that could help commercial          "That's the way it's going to go and it
security consultants should have their         spies or just plain burglars.               is already moving in that direction in-
own association or even a government          But he does list a few of the jobs he        ternationally." He says, "Rich rewards
authority to regulate their work. But         has undertaken, like guarding the QE2        could lie in premature information
to date it's still the old story : Buyer      when she's in port with a host of            about company dividends and mergers.
Beware!                                       millionaire passengers and protecting        It is going to happen in a matter of
                                              the pretty entrants in the Miss              time."                                  •
Security consultancy originated in the
                                              Universe contest when it was held in
United States and spread to Europe.
                                              Hong Kong. (Miss Israel was the prob-
Definitions internationally also remain


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