German Companies the Target of Foreign Espionage

By Matthew Harwood

Chinese and former-Soviet Republic spies are targeting German companies for industrial espionage, according to Germany's domestic intelligence agency, reports Deutsche Welle.

Current studies show that around 40 percent of German companies fall prey to industrial espionage. Furthermore, expertise worth up to 50 billion euros ($74 billion) is at risk, according to the studies. The target of the espionage are primarily nano and armament technologies, as well as that involving transportation, environment and energy.

China—says Elmar Remberg, deputy chief of the Federal Office for the Protection of the Constitution, Germany's domestic spy agency—is the big offender as it does its best to close the technological gap between itself and other post-industrial nations.

Chinese spies use all kinds of means to get the information they need, according to Andreas Blume, a data security professional at the chemical company, Evonik-Degussa:

Blume is... familiar with some of the tricks the intelligence services use: supposed document shredders that are actually equipped with internal shredders and UMTS transmitters, beamers that record presentations and USB sticks with so-called Trojan Horse programs that allow hackers to spy on computers.


According to the Federal Office for the Protection of the Constitution, Chinese case officers go undercover and work as journalists and diplomats in Germany, or visit trade fairs and companies with delegations.


But the biggest threat comes from moles within. The article says those companies that take interns from abroad are particularly vulnerable. Studies show that in 2005, a third of the attacks against corporate information security were employee perpetrated.


Because the attacks are myriad and the agents behind them so advanced, 100 percent security against industrial espionage is impossible, says the article. The best companies can do is have a well thought out IT security plan, ensure company managers are aware of the insecurities, and have good security training for employees.


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