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Industrial espionage is the process of illegally and unethically obtaining confidential information from other companies – formulas, strategic plans, pricing policies, experience – with an end to using said information to be able to gain a competitive edge.
There has been a rise in industrial espionage due to a more competitive environment. There is now increased pressure to gain such information, driven by advances in information technology which have facilitated the development of new techniques by hackers, trojans, crackers, or electronic surveillance systems. In addition, recent years have witnessed the rise in importance of social networks leading to greater reputational risk. All these are factors that lead businesses to take protective measures of their industrial property via counterintelligence and establishing security policies.
In February 2013 Apple said its internal systems were hacked by the same attackers who targeted Facebook and Twitter last month. There were concerns that industrial espionage might be far more widespread than reported. However, MTV earlier the same week staged a fake “hack” on its Twitter account, demonstrating that the accompanying publicity can actually be beneficial, if no customers or data are harmed. Burger King’s Twitter account attracted thousands of new followers while it was hijacked.