Home > Computer Security > Is your company losing an unreasonable number of competitive bids?

Is your company losing an unreasonable number of competitive bids?

Do you ever get the feeling that the competition is one up on you? Are you always losing to the same competitor? Are you questioning how someone can possibly outbid you when you’re already submitting the lowest bid reasonably possible? If you answered yes to these questions, you might want to consider the computer security implications, including insider threat.

With the amount of information about hacking and social engineering available on the Web, it’s quite easy for an unscrupulous competitor or one of its employees to compromise one or more of your company’s computer systems for the sole purpose of gather information to under bid your company on contracts. This can be accomplished by hacking into your Web servers, sending employees email that will install Trojans, directing employees to Websites that will install Trojans or obtaining physical access to your computer systems or network. With access to databases, emails, spreadsheets, documents and even contents stored on copier hard drives, it’s easy to understand how a competitor might be able to take advantage of the situation and put you out of business.

But concerns about being hacked don’t just end at your front door. If your top sales people are taking work home, it’s possible that their home computers are hacked, that someone is snooping around on their laptop at their favorite wireless enabled coffee shop, or someone has obtained stolen credentials and is accessing a shared resource such as DropBox or other online document collaboration service. If your company doesn’t have a policy of changing passwords when a person leaves the company, it’s possible that a former employee who now works for a competitor still has access back into your systems, either with his own credentials or someone else’s stolen credentials.

The worst case scenario to consider, is that one of your own employees is feeding information to a competitor, either for financial gain, as a favor in return for doing something for someone the employee knows – or even blackmail. While it may turn your stomach to think that one of your own is betraying you, circumstances can place someone in a situations that puts their own self-interests ahead of the company’s.

What to do…

The first thing you need to do is not panic. This is just a possibility you need to explore and until proven otherwise, is pure speculation on both my part and yours. There may be a perfectly legitimate reason why a competitor is winning bids and it’s up to you to figure out why.

Second, you can’t trust anyone inside the company – at least not yet. As soon as word gets out that you suspect company information is going to a competitor, any insider intentionally stealing information is going to stop their activities and even go as far as trying to cover their tracks. This can include personnel responsible for administering your computer systems or computer security.

Next, call your local FBI office or equivalent agency in your own country and discuss your situation.  They can best advise you on what to do next. It’s possible that the FBI already has its eye on one of your competitors based on other inquires.

And lastly, take a deep breath and try to relax.  If there has been any foul play, what’s done is already done. You can’t reverse time and undo the damage without help from those with the power to help you. Take things one step at a time, think before you act and realize that there is a light at the end of the tunnel.

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