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The Quiet Threat: Fighting Industrial Espionage in America

The Quiet Threat: Fighting Industrial Espionage in America, 2nd Edition. By Ronald L. Mendell. Charles C. Thomas Publishers,; 272 pages; $43.95.

As this book explains, colleges are adding intelligence courses to business and security curricula at an increasing rate. They are needed because as companies outsource technology, they open avenues for the criminal element or the competition to intercept information. This second edition updates its treatment of the topic with additions on tradecraft of the industrial spy and data mining of business information.

Ronald Mendell explains governmental spying and how it differs from industrial espionage, with the latter being the primary focus of this work. He also discusses how espionage has in large part evolved from high-tech gadgetry of the Cold War to business-on-business cyberespionage and social engineering. He completes the explanation with a discussion of the espionage process and the players involved, who can include university researchers, suppliers, contractors, and others connected to the finished product.

Each chapter explains a particular aspect of espionage. A historical component is included to further define its relevance and how it has morphed into what it is today. He discusses what one would seek, for example, by visiting an Ironworks in 1861 versus what one would seek at a ma­jor defense contractor in 1993 and how the information would be accumulated and used.

Mendell explains that an adversary is as likely to show up on a shop floor during a tour as to attack through cyberspace. He does a good job of defining intellectual property versus a trade secret, and he notes that how they are defined in court is often a matter of how they are protected. He emphasizes that security awareness is important regardless of company politics or position.

This work was informative and engaging in its presentation, aided by graphs, references, and suggestions for further reading. It would be useful as an upper level university text, certification requirement, or general knowledge reference for a security practitioner.

Reviewer: William Eardley, IV, has 26 years of experience in security and corrections. He is a member of ASIS International.