“And just how many countries do you export to?” asked the man with the sunglasses and the aquiline nose. “More than thirty,” Reinhart proudly answered as he hit a hole-in-one. He had never been modest, and anyway, why should he be skeptical or overly cautious? Stephan, his companion, belonged to his golf club. A businessman himself (or so he said), Stephan was apparently looking to arrange a business deal.
Plenty of people were interested in working with Reinhart thanks to his status as a famous Swabian entrepreneur. His company produced replacement parts for German cars and delivered them all around the world. And in his leisure time, he liked a good game of golf, even a private golf tournament or two, with the other members of his business club.
Stephan was abnormally interested in all the details of Reinhart’s business: who his suppliers were, where they exported, who the managers were…Reinhart glibly shared information, unconcerned with security matters because he had just purchased an expensive new IT security system. What could go wrong? His company was impervious to outside threats. At least, that’s what he thought.
Several months later, Reinhart received horrible news: someone had stolen highly sensitive data from his business and publicly offered to sell it to his largest competitor. The deal had not yet been closed, but it might be at any minute. How had this happened?
As it turned out, Reinhart had fallen prey to a month-long infiltration of his firm. Several of the employees recently hired by the human resources department were not at all who they had seemed to be. When Reinhart met with an agent of the investigator Mr. Black, he learned the following:
Reinhart’s new cleaning staff were scheduled to clean overnight, so that was what they did. But what they also did was collect documents, pilfering any papers thrown in the trash or left at the desks. Then there was the 21-year-old trainee named Roman, who was not a trainee at all. In reality, he was a computer specialist attempting to gain access to the personal data on virtually every computer at the firm. Each day he acquired new passwords until finally, he had access to every department of the company. Even a night watchman and a janitor participated in the infiltration, manipulating the company’s surveillance systems to conceal the ongoing theft and corporate espionage.
All together, the team of infiltrators collected an astounding amount of high risk data: personal notes kept by the senior managers, data on the number of replacement parts in stock, handbooks for prototypes of newly developed products, names and schedules of suppliers, computer passwords, key codes that gave access to all departments of the building, information about the employee structure and timetables, hiring records, details concerning the company’s communication with car factories–In short, they had acquired every conceivable piece of important information on Reinhart’s business dealings and were preparing to sell their knowledge. Reinhart’s company was in peril.
At the head of this infiltration network was none other than Stephan, the ringleader of the group who was masquerading as an aboveboard Business Manager. It was Stephan who had received all the data and made attempts to sell information to Reinhart’s competitors. The scheme likely would have worked if Reinhart had not noticed some small irregularities. Suspecting that something was wrong, Reinhart then went to The Mr Black Agency for advice on security management.
Mr Black’s agents uncovered the identities of the phony employees. Within a week, the infiltrators were gone. They were never able to use the stolen data to their benefit.
Even with a newly installed 1.5-million Euro IT security system, Reinhart had made a huge mistake. He did not recognize the real security liability in his business: human error.
After the situation was resolved, Mr Black’s security experts set up a further system to reduce potential risks from nefarious employees. Reinhart came close to losing everything, but now he’s well-protected against every possible risk. And if anything goes wrong again, he knows where to turn.
Some names and identifying details have been changed to protect the privacy of individuals.