A Contrarian View: With a Hire Perspective

A Contrarian View:
With a Hire Perspective
April, 2021 Part II

Jon Watson

Congratulations on your new hire? Impressive. With a transcript like his, coupled with his graduate work in emerging technologies, he’ll be an innovative force at your firm for years to come!

Or will he?

I’m sure you asked him in the interview process where he saw himself in five years. Did you ask him to comment on his greatest weakness or why, perhaps, the company should hire him over the other applicants? Along the way, did you happen to ask if he would make his personal financial information available to the company or to list his foreign travel for the past five years? Doubtful.

Did you know that for hostile intelligence services, American college students are some of their most favored targets? It’s not because the “kids” have security clearances or access to classified information. They don’t. But, what they do have is just as attractive. They have potential. How would you like to know that the young person you just brought on is currently being well-compensated by the Chinese to steal and provide your firm’s crown jewels. Or, that the greenhorn in your biomedical division is really a young, but seasoned, Russian intelligence collector.

Don’t think it could happen to you or to your college-aged child? Neither did Glenn. If you’re a business owner, HR rep, or college student, and are tired of watching reruns of “Friends,” may I make a suggestion? Go online or to YouTube and type in, “Game of Pawns.” It’s a story of how a student from the Midwest took a trip abroad and then spent the rest of his youth in an American federal prison.

Do you know what subtle recruitment efforts look like? How about elicitation techniques? What’s the one thing you could do that would make you most vulnerable to those who would harm you in this way?

While at the FBI, one of my responsibilities was to contact universities with study abroad programs and to ask for permission to brief their students before they departed. One major university, in particular, listened to my remarks and then replied angrily, “We’re not going to allow you to tell them that! No one would want to go!!” Absolutely. Priceless.

Economic espionage is one of the five major insider threats facing businesses today. Is there anything that can be done about it? There is. Implementing sound countermeasures should be a centerpiece for any security program charged with protecting proprietary information. Understanding pre-event indicators, leveraging security technology, establishing confidential reporting processes, and creating a well-educated work force, are all key to preventing or minimizing these types of malicious attacks.

One of the highest hurdles in combatting these types of threats, however, is first convincing decision-makers that this type of security concern is real and not just a story line in a Clancy novel. Still think you’re somehow above it all? Welcome to the club. Everyone always does. Now, assignment number two – turn off the television, go back to YouTube, and watch, “Voices of the Betrayed.”

Odin Enterprises.

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