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Beyond Competitive Intelligence: The Practice of Counterintelligence and Trade Secrets Protection

Beyond Competitive Intelligence: The Practice of Counterintelligence and Trade Secrets Protection.

By Mark L. Robinson; published by Authorhouse; available "> (Web); 103 pages; $15.50 (at

The preface to chapter four of this book describes that section as "a layman's introduction." That description can be applied to the entire work. Author Mark Robinson introduces competitive intelligence (CI) concepts to neophytes and peppers his book with charts, lists, and graphics that underscore his lessons. That's good as far as it goes, but it fails to provide the comprehensive study expected from a how-to book.

The material fleshes out what is essentially an overview of CI. Robinson explains CI and its importance to informed business decisions and provides proven collection techniques, such as data mining and social engineering. He then lays the groundwork for a company to establish and implement a counterintelligence and CI countermeasures program.

Components of such a program include preemployment screening, noncompete and nondisclosure agreements, and operations security. Robinson stresses developing an information protection team, composed of members of critical business units, to identify and assign value to information assets. Robinson gives only scant and halting coverage, however, to laws governing intelligence collection.

As an overview of competitive intelligence, this book has its place. And for those unfamiliar with CI concepts, the information is a quick read. Robinson, a competitive intelligence consultant by trade, injects the work with interesting anecdotes detailing adversarial methods for collecting trade secrets, the consequences of information compromise, and corporate attempts to mitigate the loss of sensitive information. For a more detailed examination of CI, however, practitioners should look elsewhere.

Reviewer: Ross D. Bulla, CPP, is president of The Treadstone Group, Inc., a North Carolina-based security consultancy and investigative firm providing services to high-profile corporate and individual clients. He is a member of ASIS International.