Research Outline

Damien J. Dickens

Industrial Espionage

SCMT 392

American Military University

Dr. Yvette Aguiar

16 May 2021






Research Topic: Employees as facilitators of Corporate Espionage


Whenever a company falls victim to corporate espionage, executives wonder how the information got leaked. For example, a competitor may launch a new product a few months before the company launches, and executives shake their heads as they strategize to regain lost revenue. Corporate espionage is not a new threat as it dated back centuries ago. According to research, 70% of a company’s value is held in its information (Benny, 2019). Therefore, companies strive to keep their information as safe as possible.

Despite efforts to safeguard their corporate data, companies still lose a lot of revenue through corporate espionage. Shockingly, while employees are expected to safeguard a company’s competitiveness, researchers mention that they facilitate corporate espionage. Current and former employees are regarded as both direct and indirect insider threats (Toubul, 2021). Direct employee threat takes three forms; employee bribery, social engineering, and group collusion. Indirectly, employees’ internet activities such as online shopping may make a company vulnerable to corporate espionage (Rajput, 2021).

Researchers have cited several motivations behind employee facilitation of corporate espionage. The most common motivation factors are money and revenge. In most cases, employees are bribed with a lot of money to reveal company secrets. In the case of ex-employees, their main motivation is to revenge for perceived unfair treatment (Arbman, 2020). While researchers have focused on the motivation and techniques of stealing corporate data by employees, there is little research on the weaknesses that facilitate the process. It is obvious that there must be gaps that make it possible for employees to access information and provide them to competitors. A few researchers mention poor cybersecurity policies and behavior (Roberts, 2021). In this paper, the researcher will analyze these gaps and identify other gaps that support employee-facilitated corporate espionage. The researcher will also analyze existing literature to inform recommendations on how to address the challenge.

Research Question

What weaknesses do employees exploit in facilitating corporate espionage?

Research Hypothesis

The research is based on the hypothesis that employees facilitate corporate espionage and make companies vulnerable to their competitors. The hypothesis is based on existing literature that poses employees as a great threat to the company’s information. The employees include ex-employees, temporary staff, and trusted senior managers. Another hypothesis is that employees facilitate corporate espionage by exploiting weaknesses in a company. The weaknesses may be in the form of company security policies and termination policies.


The remainder of the paper will constitute;

Chapter 2; Literature Review

Chapter 3: Methodology

Chapter 4: Findings

Chapter 5: Conclusion and Recommendations







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Touboul, B. (2021). Hi-Tech Facilitators. In SERVANTS OF THE DEVIL: The Facilitators of the Criminal and Terrorist Networks (pp. 67-84).

Papadaki, M., & Shiaeles, S. Insider threat.

Roberts, D. J. (2021). An Analysis of Employee Information Security Policy Compliance Behavior: A Generic Qualitative Inquiry (Doctoral dissertation, Capella University).

Benny, D. J. (2019). Industrial espionage: Developing a counterespionage program. CRC Press.

Heavin, C., Neville, K., & O’Riordan, S. (2018). Leveraging Technology-Enhanced Teaching and Learning for Future IS Security Professionals. In Encyclopedia of Information Science and Technology, Fourth Edition (pp. 2558-2570). IGI Global.

Haelterman, H. (2020). Hard, soft, or situational controls? Bridging the gap between security, compliance, and internal control. Security Journal, 33(4), 636-656.

Rajput, B. (2020). Emerging Trends and Patterns of Cyber Economic Crimes. In Cyber Economic Crime in India (pp. 97-142). Springer, Cham.

Arbman, S. (2020). A firm’s s legal control over confidential information—a study on proactive management of trade secrets and post-employment obligations in an employment contract.

Senarak, C. (2021). Port cybersecurity and threat: A structural model for prevention and policy development. The Asian Journal of Shipping and Logistics, 37(1), 20-36.

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