Economic Espionage

DEFINITION of 'Economic Espionage'

The unlawful targeting and theft of a nation’s critical economic intelligence. Economic espionage may include the clandestine acquisition or outright theft of invaluable proprietary information in a number of areas including technology, finance and government policy. Economic espionage differs from corporate or industrial espionage in a number of ways – it is likely to be state-sponsored, have motives other than profit or gain (such as closing a technology gap) and be much larger in scale and scope. Recognizing the threat from such activity, the U.S. signed the Economic Espionage Act into law in October 1996.

BREAKING DOWN 'Economic Espionage'

According to the FBI, foreign competitors conduct economic espionage in three main ways:

  • By recruiting insiders working for U.S. companies and research institutions that typically share the same national background.
  • Using methods such as bribery, cyber-attacks, “dumpster diving” and wiretapping.
  • Establishing seemingly innocent relationships with U.S. companies to gather economic intelligence including trade secrets.

The FBI recommends that to counter this threat, companies should take a number of steps that include implementing a proactive plan to safeguard trade secrets, securing physical and electronic versions of intellectual property, and training employees.

In November 2011, the U.S. accused China of being the world’s “most active and persistent” perpetrator of economic espionage, and also identified Russia as one of the most aggressive collectors of U.S. economic information and technology. The problem's scale was evident in subsequent media reports that said hundreds of leading U.S. companies had been targeted by overseas entities for economic espionage.
 

RELATED TERMS
  1. Industrial Espionage

    The theft of trade secrets by the removal, copying or recording ...
  2. Competitive Intelligence

    The process of collecting and analyzing information about competitors’ ...
  3. Trade Secret

    Any practice or process of a company that is generally not known ...
  4. Identity Theft

    The crime of obtaining the personal or financial information ...
  5. Economic Indicator

    An economic indicator is a piece of economic data, usually of ...
  6. Broad Form Personal Theft Insurance

    Insurance coverage to protect personal assets. Broad form personal ...
Related Articles
  1. Investing

    Corporate Espionage: Fact And Fiction

    Delve into the world of the corporate spy.
  2. Markets

    A New Economic Threat: State-Sponsored Hacking

    State sponsored hacking attempts are becoming a major cause of concern to the US. Here is a list of US sectors most vulnerable to state-sponsored hacking.
  3. Investing

    Identity Theft Protection Services: Worth Having?

    A detailed review of what you get from American's leading identity theft protection agencies. Start here before deciding whether you need this coverage.
  4. Investing

    Identity Theft: How Much Should You Worry?

    Identity fraud cost $18 billion last year. But are enough Americans victimized – with big enough losses – that it's worth buying protection?
  5. Investing

    Whose Fault Is Identity Theft?

    You've been so careful, so how did they get your information? Who is really to blame for your identity being stolen?
  6. Investing

    Are You A Target For Identity Thieves?

    The Americans at highest risk for identity theft and identity fraud aren't the ones you most expect. See if you're on the high-risk list.
  7. Financial Advisor

    5 Ways to Avoid Identity Fraud

    Identity theft was the number one consumer complaint in 2014. Here are some ways you can protect yourself.
  8. Entrepreneurship & Small Business

    Hot Startups for Investors in 2016 

    The hot investment areas for 2016 are infrastructure software, real estate, cybersecurity, Mobile First Enterprise Applications, and Healthcare IT.
  9. Personal Finance

    Pros And Cons Of Credit Monitoring Services

    Identity theft is a complex problem. Learn if credit monitoring services are the solution.
  10. Investing

    The No. 1 Threat To National Security Could Make You A Fortune

    Talk about a lousy way to start the day. Each morning, even when he's on vacation, the President of the United States sits with top intelligence officials to review the President's Daily Brief, ...
RELATED FAQS
  1. What are the risks of using CI (competitive intelligence) for espionage?

    Learn about the primary risks involved in performing corporate espionage and how to differentiate between espionage and competitive ... Read Answer >>
  2. What is the difference between business intelligence and competitive intelligence?

    Understand the difference between business intelligence and competitive intelligence. Learn why both are important for the ... Read Answer >>
  3. What impact does economics have on government policy?

    Learn about the impact of economic conditions on government policy and understand how governments engineer economic conditions ... Read Answer >>
  4. What is the difference between CI (competitive intelligence) and competitive analysis?

    Understand the difference between competitive intelligence and competitive analysis. Learn why a company conducts both types ... Read Answer >>
  5. What are the historical origins of business intelligence?

    Find out where the term "business intelligence" came from and how it evolved into the widely used concept in modern corporate ... Read Answer >>
  6. How does the Federal Government track the business cycle?

    Learn more about the agencies used by the federal government to research business cycle changes and inform decisions about ... Read Answer >>
Trading Center