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The Spies Inside Your Company

Hear the words ‘corporate espionage’ and you might think it’s only something that corporate giants need to worry about.

But that’s not the case. Corporate espionage is something that can affect companies of any size. And despite what you might believe, the threat is highly likely to come from within your organisation.

The corporate spy could be a dissatisfied or disgruntled employee, a manager, or a supplier, according to Rick Orloff, CSO at Code 42, a leading provider of cloud-based endpoint data security and recovery.

Case in point: an employee of Siemens, a leading European manufacturer, was arrested in the Netherlands last month on suspicion of leaking patents and other company secrets to a Chinese competitor, according to Reuters news agency.

“Individuals can easily syphon off sensitive corporate information and pass it to unauthorised third-parties,” writes Orloff in Info Security magazine. “Systems can also be infiltrated by those that wish to do your business harm or gain a competitive advantage from your data.”

And it’s a huge mistake to assume you only need to protect your company from cyber-attacks, according to Bruce Wimmer, G4S’s Senior Director and Leader of Counter Business Espionage.

He warns that business spying that doesn’t involve cyber intrusion is on the rise and is one of the greatest security risks to businesses, dwarfing the threat from cyber-attacks.

G4S’s corporate risk service division estimates the cost is as high as $1.1 trillion annually. By comparison, the impact of business-critical data being stolen remotely is estimated to be $400bn a year, G4S estimates.

“Many businesses consider the threat of a cyber-attack to be their biggest security concern and at their peril they ignore the threat of data loss where corporate spies uncover serious shortcomings in physical security arrangements,” says Wimmer.

“Disgruntled employees, competitors, foreign governments, and suppliers can act as an insider threat, over short and long periods of time, with little chance of detection if the business is only focusing on external cyber threats.”

The corporate spy will home in on weaknesses, knowledge gaps and human frailty and there’s little point in monitoring systems if your company doesn’t also monitor the people who can access them.

“While a cyber-attack can bring down a company’s systems or access confidential information, there are many more ways that competitors or other corporate spies can attack a business,” warns Wimmer.

Worse, these methods can make an in-depth cyber-attack possible.

How to Protect Your Company’s Sensitive Information

Wimmer recommends doing the following:

  • Conduct a security audit of your premises. Identify and test the rights of access and rights of way for all your employees as well as service providers (cleaners, engineers, IT professionals, etc.).
  • Assess the processes you have for new employees, external suppliers and visitors. Share the information with relevant employees.
  • Instigate a Clean Desk Policy and make sure it’s always enforced.
  • Establish a process for the secure and timely disposal of sensitive printed material.
  • Introduce a policy to protect sensitive information that covers how it is shared (or not) in conversations, meetings, telephone calls and paper documents.
  • Ensure business executives who travel to meetings or conferences stay vigilant.

“Business executives are extremely vulnerable to spying when travelling,” says Wimmer.

“Travel security programmes address terror threats, criminal threats, potential political instability, even health and natural disasters, but they rarely cover business espionage threats – even though the business espionage threats almost always pose a more serious adverse business impact.”

Managing All The Threats and Risks To Your Business

Of course, corporate espionage is just one of the security risks your company might face. Besides security risks, there are risks involving finance, legal and regulatory compliance, operations, reputation, service delivery, commerce, internal and outsourced projects, safety, stakeholder management, strategy, and technology.

It’s no wonder that business owners and CEOs get overwhelmed when it comes to managing risk. Fortunately, we can help. The CFO Centre will provide you with a highly experienced senior part-time CFO with ‘big business experience’ who will work with you to understand the risk profile of your business and of the shareholders.

By managing the company’s risk profile and the risk profiles of the shareholders the whole business can be brought into alignment and can operate as a unit rather than as a set of individual parts.

This is actually one of the most critical roles in any business and your part-time CFO will support and guide you through the process.

We have an intimate understanding of every conceivable risk growing businesses face.

This means that we can help you build a much stronger business by knowing how to navigate through the growth stages of the business cycle confident that you are equipped to meet the challenges as they present themselves.

Lower Your Risk Today

Let one of the CFO Centre’s part-time CFOs help you with business risk analysis. You can download a free report on Business Risk Assessment here or you can book a free one-to-one call with one of our part-time CFOs—just call us now on 91 9967531075 / 9867916753 or go to: www.cfocentre.co.in/financebreakthroughsession/

How Your Office Shredder Is Putting Your Company At Risk

It might look innocent enough but your office shredding machine actually poses as much a threat to your business as the most virulent computer virus.

What?! How?

How could something that was bought to protect your business be as harmful as a computer Trojan?

It’s simple really: it’s not fit for purpose. Yes, it cuts your unwanted documents into thin strips. But—and this is the important bit—it leaves your company exposed to all kinds of trouble because those strips can be reassembled.

All it takes is a little bit of patience to reassemble those bits and read your documents.

Now, you might think this all sounds far-fetched, a little too James Bond/Jason Bourne for your circumstances but unfortunately, it’s not.

In fact, there’s even software that runs on Windows whose very purpose is to reassemble shredded documents.

Called ‘Unshredder’, it automates the reassembly of torn or shredded documents, thus saving ‘even novice computer users’ the tedious task of doing the job by hand.

What if those documents reveal your company’s strategic plans for the next five years? Or the details of your next big ‘secret’ project? Or the names and personal details of your customers or clients?

Even office memos can reveal valuable information in the wrong hands.

And let’s face it, people who take the trouble to reassemble shredded paper to find sensitive company information aren’t doing it for benign or charitable reasons.

No, they’re most likely doing it for nefarious purposes: to expose your company’s plans via social media or traditional media; to sell the information they find to your competitors; to blackmail your company, or to commit large-scale identity theft using your customers’ details.

The impact of your company’s secrets being revealed could be devastating, but the impact of your customers’ or clients’ details being revealed could be just as bad.

In the UK, for instance, companies that collect customers’ or clients’ personal details are legally obliged to protect those details under a law called the Data Protection Act 1998.

The same law also states that companies are legally obliged to carefully destroy customer records when they no longer need to retain them.

Not doing so results in severe penalties.

Like the £100,000 fine handed out to a local council which was found guilty of dumping the personal records of 100 people in a building it had once used as offices. The personal records were found stuffed inside 45 bags of rubbish left by the departing council employees.

So, allowing your customers’ details to fall into the wrong hands could result in your company ending up on the wrong side of the law.

And it doesn’t matter how healthy your turnover is, few companies can take a £100,000 hit to their monthly cashflow without hurting.

There’s more. If word gets out that your company doesn’t protect your customers’ details, think of the public relations implications. Who will want to risk buying from your company again?

How can you avoid this kind of disaster?

Simple, you outsource your document disposal to companies that offer paper shredding services. These companies use industrial-scale paper shredders with blades capable of transforming your documents into tiny, uneven bits of paper that can’t be reassembled.

Just as importantly, these companies will provide you with proof of destruction so that you have an audit trail, should you ever be in a position where you need it.

And as with all kinds of outsourcing, there are many other benefits too.

One, you save on overheads. You no longer need to pay for the repair, maintenance and replacement of an office shredding machine that, like a photocopier, has an unfortunate habit of breaking down when you most need it.

Two, your employees no longer need to waste time slowly feeding one document at a time into the office shredding machine. Instead, they can do the job for which they were employed.

Three, you save space. No need to allocate valuable office space for the mountain of documents that need to be fed one page at a time into your office shredder.

Four, you save money. And five, you help save the environment, because most reputable professional paper shredding services recycle what’s left of the documents they process.

So, as you see, although outsourcing has attracted its fair share of negative press in the past, it is often a force for good in a company.

It not only allows you and your employees to focus on your core competencies but saves you money and time.

Paper-shredding is just one example of what you can outsource in your business. You can in fact outsource all your technology services and business processes such as HR and finance, which allows you to operate a leaner, more efficient business and use the savings to drive growth.

Enlisting the services of an experienced part-time CFO, for example, can add value, increase efficiency and maximise opportunities in your business.

You get access to a CFO with the experience and knowledge to help you plan, manage and control business growth and who can organise both your in-house and external accounts functions.

Many business owners don’t realise the breadth of the role of a part-time CFO. For instance, a part-time CFO will not only become an unofficial ‘sounding board’ for the often-isolated CEO or owner of the business but can also help devise an efficient outsourcing strategy for the company.

If one of our part-time CFOs helps you to create an outsourcing strategy, for example, the process will include:

  • Evaluating your company’s current and future requirements.
  • Discussing a company-wide strategy/protocol for taking on outsourced providers
  • Investigating specific outsourced providers (starting with our national network of trusted providers) with proven track records
  • Evaluating providers’ core competencies to ensure they find the right match
  • Discussing cost implications in detail and uncover any hidden costs before contracting the supplier
  • Interviewing providers and ensure they will be a good cultural fit
  • Ensuring that the provider will be able to deliver the service on time and to the right standard
  • Challenging providers about their data security and integrity
  • Asking providers to share their contingency plans in the event of serious problems
  • Evaluating providers’ training programmes and ability to support your business in the event of staff sickness or absence
  • Discussing providers’ compliance policies to ensure that they will take on the responsibility (where appropriate) to adhere to laws and regulatory requirements.

And that’s just outsourcing. For a fraction of the cost of hiring a junior member of staff, our part-time CFOs will work with you to resolve all of the 12 major challenges your company is likely to face:

  1. Exit Planning
  2. Risk Assessment
  3. Implementation Timetable
  4. Strategic Funding
  5. Internal Systems
  6. Reporting
  7. Profit Improvement
  8. Cash Flow Management
  9. Compliance Reporting
  10. Tax Planning and Legal Issues
  11. Outsourcing
  12. Banking Relationship

And because it’s a part-time role, there’s no impact on your payroll or headcount.

What’s not to like?

Conclusion

So, if you want to keep your company safe, outsource your paper-shredding. And if you want to free up your time, save money and accelerate your business growth, hire a part-time CFO.

To find out more about how a part-time CFO will help your business, book a free one-to-one call with one of our part-time CFOs now by clicking here or call us on 91 9967531075 / 9867916753.

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