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Who's Stealing Your Business? How to Identify and Prevent Business Espionage.

Who's Stealing Your Business?

Author: William Johnson with Jack Maguire

Publisher: AMACOM, New York, NY, 1988; 196 pages, hardback: $19.95

Reviewer: Stephen A. Carlton, CPP, President, Security Analysts Inc., Minneapolis, MN; Member of the ASIS Standing Committee on Safeguarding Proprietary Information

As security professionals, we need to convey the importance of protecting sensitive information to others within the business community. Therefore, I was anxious to read this slick new book titled Whos's Stealing Your Business?--How to Identify and Prevent Business Espionage.

The authors--William Johnson, a business espionage expert, and Jack Maguire, a free-lance writer--paint a picture of corporate espionage that unfortunately mixes fact and fiction. The first chapter begins with references to actual cases, but at least one case had the wrong date. (Merck, Rohm & Hass, and Sprague files its suit in the 1960s, not in 1985 as the book states.) Readers are also treated to such trivia as Pinkerton's zip code (10007) and the employment history of Johnson.

The case histories read like Harlequin novels. For example, "Halfway home Nick stopped for a drink as he always did. Leg Man, a business spy, followed Nick into the bar. His partner, Wheel Man. . . ."

The problem of employee disloyalty and unethical business-intelligence gathering is serious. To devote an entire chapter to "The Spy Store: Bugs, Gadgets, and Other Devices Spies Use" dilutes the primary message--the growing threat of corporate espionage--especially when so much could and should be said.

Other flaws in the book are categorical statements such as: "A patent is poor protection." "Business espionage agents often attach electronic bugs directly to one or more of the cables that link the different components of the computer system." Of course, patents have limitations since not all those who are granted patents have truly unique concepts. And, while electronic bugs may indeed by used to acquire competitive information via computer cables, to state this practice is often used needs supporting evidence this book does not provide.

The book neither lists references nor does it have a bibliography. The list of nine sources on the copyright page seemed inadequate for a 196-page book. This alone prejudices me against this work.

This mixture of fiction and hype overshadows the solid recommendations of the book. Had the authors stuck to the same criteria used by a competent investigator--to present facts supported by evidence--their book would have met the need for a concise yet comprehensive overview of contemporary corporate espionage and methods to protect against it. As it is not, this book leaves much to be desired and presents nothing new.
COPYRIGHT 1989 American Society for Industrial Security
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 1989 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

Article Details
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Author:Carlton, Stephen A.
Publication:Security Management
Article Type:Book Review
Date:May 1, 1989
Previous Article:Investigating Employee Conduct.
Next Article:Ideas in the Workplace: Planning for Protection.

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