A blend of advanced technology, increased litigation and rising fears about trade secret theft and financial fraud is driving law firms and corporate counsel to the doors of former FBI agents and ex-prosecutors with a knack for solving crimes.
These private investigators report that calls for help from law firms and corporate general counsel have increased substantially in recent years.
Attorneys are looking for assistance on a wide range of problems, including: corporate espionage, intellectual property theft and workplace discrimination claims.
At the core of many of these problems, lawyers note, is a mountain of computer evidence too technical and too overwhelming for attorneys to dissect on their own.
"Most lawyers do not have the technological experience or the accounting expertise to do almost any of the stuff that these guys do," said attorney Alan Brudner, head of litigation and investigations of the U.S. division of UBS Securities LLC, an international financial services firm.
Corporate Counsel should be reinvesting in the consistent lawful monitoring of employees, contractors and suppliers as it pertains to Executive Order 12333. This has been recently amended and clearly spells out the refocus on our intelligence efforts to address the following threats to our corporate trade secrets and national security:
(c) Intelligence collection under this order should be guided by the need for information to respond to intelligence priorities set by the President.
(d) Special emphasis should be given to detecting and countering:
(1) Espionage and other threats and activities directed by foreign powers or their intelligence services against the United States and its interests;
(2) Threats to the United States and its interests from terrorism; and
(3) Threats to the United States and its interests from the development, possession, proliferation, or use of weapons of mass destruction.
(e) Special emphasis shall be given to the production of timely, accurate, and insightful reports, responsive to decision makers in the executive branch, that draw on all appropriate sources of information, including open source information, meet rigorous analytic standards, consider diverse analytic viewpoints, and accurately represent appropriate alternative views.
Suffice it to say that more than ever, "Open Source" information is becoming the starting point for all intelligence collection activities. In the context of the corporate policy regarding the use of systems, most if not all companies have the right to monitor all applications for "Red Flag" indicators of fraud, espionage or other violations of state and federal laws. Corporations are using "Open Source" information to determine the initial profile of potential candidates for open positions including the analysis of FaceBook, MySpace and LinkedIn social networking sites.
Executive Order 12333 emphasizes US citizens rights:
The Executive Order maintains and strengthens existing protections for Americans' civil liberties and privacy rights. The Executive Order retains and reinforces the provisions in place in the original Executive Order 12333 to ensure that all intelligence activities are conducted in a manner that protects the civil liberties and privacy rights of Americans. All collection, retention, and dissemination of information regarding United States persons must be conducted in accordance with procedures approved by the Attorney General.
Executive Management and Boards of Directors will be reexamining the current state of their policies regarding the monitoring of employees and other stakeholders. Essential tools and operational risk management methodologies must not only be utilized to safeguard our corporate secrets from theft and economic espionage, they must simultaneously protect our privacy and civil rights. There are mechanisms in place for "Joe Citizen" to address his identity and the right to correct any information that is incorrect or in error. However, in this age of Wiki's, social networking sites and sophisticated data mining techniques it's possible that one's identity could be associated with other information that is derogatory, disparaging or can damage a persons reputation.
Managing your own identity and reputation in a vast sea of "Open Source" information is imperative. In a world of intelligence collection, analysis and production the integrity of data is just as important as the confidentiality and the assurance of the data. Making sure that Lexis Nexis, TransUnion, Experian and Equifax are using the correct information associated with your identity could make the difference in critical facets of your life, both personal and professional.
Who is managing your identity today? Private and law enforcement investigators may start with "Open Source" information to develop a profile, yet that is only the beginning. Vetting sources and individuals who provide information is a key part of the process. Certifications, training, regulation and continuous oversight will ensure that people are continuously improving their skills, techniques and processes. The rest, is up to you.