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Spy sensitivity.

Economic espionage is now a well-known threat, but protecting businesses from it is a continuing problem. Canada is protecting itself with a technology transfer program that encourages a dialogue between the Canadian Security and Intelligence Service (CSIS) and private corporations.

The CSIS technology transfer program began in January 1992. Although it is difficult to measure the success of a proactive program such as this one, Chris MacMartin, national coordinator of the program, is satisfied. He evaluates the program's progress based on whether companies want to talk to CSIS and whether they have security concerns. According to MacMartin, most companies are interested in the liaison, and one-third of those he and his staff have spoken with have voiced legitimate security concerns.

CSIS hopes this program will sensitize businesses to the ever-changing threat. "In a nutshell ... the world has changed considerably. In recognition of this change we had to adapt ... and this is one area where a new approach and new focus was necessary," explains MacMartin.

The program, which is voluntary, allows businesses in industries that depend on high technology for their livelihood to open a dialogue with CSIS. CSIS, in turn, acts as a resource for their security needs but does not provide direct intelligence information on threats or specific countries' espionage activities. "We are not setting ourselves up as a private security consultant for Canadian industry," explains MacMartin. "We don't give advice on physical security measures .... We would provide them with direction toward other government departments who may be able to assist them in that respect."

Businesses themselves must identify what they have that needs to be protected and from whom. According to MacMartin, no one knows better than the business executives themselves what a company has that is valuable. Providing businesses with a list of specific governments that CSIS deems to be threatening would be futile, MacMartin says, because the threats come from everywhere and change daily. If he were to tell a company that it was the target of the espionage operations of countries X, Y, and Z, then that company would assume, perhaps incorrectly, that other countries, such as A, B, and C, pose no threat. "There are not good guys and bad guys in this at all. It's all gray," he says.

In the past, MacMartin explains, when CSIS approached private sector corporations, it had its own agenda, usually to learn about the private sector activities of a traditional adversary. "Now we're going in and basically saying |we're through telling you where the threat is coming from; you tell us.' "

MacMartin says that the technology transfer program is willing to enter into a dialogue with any company in a hightech industry sector that operates in Canada. "We are not saying show us your 51 percent Canadian ownership. The goal of the program is to make Canada a safe place for business to function."
COPYRIGHT 1993 American Society for Industrial Security
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 1993 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

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Title Annotation:protecting businesses from economic espionage
Author:Arbetter, Lisa
Publication:Security Management
Date:Aug 1, 1993
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