Optical/IP Networks

Spying Is Rife, Says Poll

The discovery of an employee from China’s Huawei Technologies Co. Ltd. taking photographs of a competitor's equipment at the recent Supercomm trade show raised a few questions -- notably over how often this sort of thing occurs, and whether it's worth the risk of getting caught (see Huawei in Spying Flap and Will Spying Charges Hurt Huawei?).

The answer is that corporate espionage is fairly commonplace, although snooping around at trade shows isn't particularly rewarding, according to early results of this month's Light Reading Work Poll.

Highlights so far include:

  • Nearly one third (32 percent) of respondents say their company buys competitors' products in order to dissect them, and a further 19 percent assume their company does this, but don't know whether they do for sure.

  • More than one in five respondents (22 percent) have been asked by their company to lift confidential documents from a competitor, and 17 percent have gone ahead and done it.

  • Spying that goes beyond taking a look at the competitors’ booths happens quite a lot at trade shows, say 19 percent. Forty-two percent agree some underhanded stuff goes on, but "not as much as the old days".

  • Many people seem to view peeking inside a tradeshow display unit as a way of gaining a competitive edge -- 9 percent say quite a lot can be gained and 39 percent say that there is some advantage, although the information isn’t very damaging. Nine percent reckon it’s a waste of time though.

  • The main reason for companies taking a peek is to gather information about the hardware so they can copy it, according to 8 percent. Forty-nine percent say it’s to learn the types of merchant chips competitors are using, and 43 percent think it’s valuable for identifying weaknesses in the competition’s products.

What's been your experience? Click here to vote and see the latest results in full.

- Nicole Willing, Reporter, Light Reading

COMMENTS Add Comment
whyiswhy 12/5/2012 | 1:28:32 AM
re: Spying Is Rife, Says Poll Unlike the banner headline, I read the results quite differently.

Namely, it is accepted (expected) behavior to purchase your competitors products (directly or indirectly) and test them to look for weaknesses or competitive advantages.

The rest of the poll says quite strongly that under handed (sneaky or illegal) methods are a risky waste of time.

flam 12/5/2012 | 1:28:30 AM
re: Spying Is Rife, Says Poll I agree with whyiswhy. You can interpret these results any way - I see almost 80% saying that they never "spied" for anyone nor have they been asked to.

20% == rife?

I don't think so. Needs to be over 50% for me to buy this argument.

sidepipes 12/5/2012 | 1:28:26 AM
re: Spying Is Rife, Says Poll Buying and analyzing the competition's products is normal. If it is for sale, it is there to see. Only when "insiders" steal code, and other proprietary items for profit have they really crossed the line. Otherwise, its "Market Research"

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