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Industrie 4.0

Manuals aim to protect SMEs against industrial espionage

One in three SMEs in Germany has already been hit by economic or industrial espionage. Scientists are now proposing measures for improved cooperation with the investigating authorities.

12 Jan. 2019
HMI-ID12-068br_FraunhoferISI
Manuals aim to protect SMEs against industrial espionage (Photo: Fraunhofer ISI)

Spying on know-how is not just a problem for global players, but also for SMEs. Across all sectors, approximately 30% of SMEs in Germany have already been affected by espionage, while approximately 50% have suspected espionage. However, the WISKOS (a German acronym for economic and industrial espionage in Germany and Europe) study, compiled by the Max Planck Institute for Foreign and International Criminal Law , the Fraunhofer Institute for Systems and Innovation Research ISI , the Federal Criminal Police Office of Germany, the State Criminal Police Office Baden-Wuerttemberg, and the University of Applied Police Sciences in Rothenburg, has found that the real figure is actually much higher.

According to the study, a particular problem is that around 20% of the companies surveyed do not have any strategy in place for detecting or defending themselves against cyber espionage. Moreover, companies often shy away from calling on external support when they suspect espionage at play. “There are currently no standard procedures and instead a great deal of uncertainty in companies when it comes to espionage, with double the number of crimes going unreported,” says Werner Heyer from the State Criminal Police Office Baden-Wuerttemberg. Scientists at the Max Planck Institute and Fraunhofer ISI have therefore now compiled manuals that set out practical recommendations for companies, scientific organizations, and law enforcement agencies. They aim to raise awareness of this criminal phenomenon and to provide information about preventative measures and what to do in the event of an incident.

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