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Economic Intelligence controlling : a new world war?


Ex civilian of the Ministry of Defence on contract, Bruno Delamotte set up his own agency in 1994. Specialized in international strategy and security, Bruno Delamotte Consultants uses local ressources and an original know-how to answer questions on security effectively.


Véronique Anger: May you exactly define your profession as an expert in security and international strategy? How do you intervene? What makes you original?
Bruno Delamotte: Our profession consists in helping companies already settled down or that plan to establish themselves abroad to determine, estimate and prevent the factors of human and material hazards they could be confronted to.
Our sphere of intervention is wide.We act for several big companies troughout the world (Africa, Latin America, Asia, Europe, Middle East, ...) in total confidentiality. Contrary to international big auditing firms, we do not only observe the facts or elaborate research strategies, we also go on the spot everywhere in the world. That is where our strengh and singularity lie. Our originality is also about acting both upstream (analysis and advice) and downstream (helping clients to bring into play, headhunt and train Security chief executives, audits and corrective measures ).


VA: To offer so many diversified services, an overview of the situation is essential...
BD:
Indeed, that implies perfect knowledge of the site's socioeconomic, political and even military environment.
We have a relationship with local networks. Thus, we are able to quickly contact South American rebel agents, African guerilla chiefs and Asian Mafia gangs. All those links will be used as levers (to free hostages, for instance), which happened several times and made us save precious time. We do not aim at working against host countries'interests, but to cooperate with them to help our clients to strengthen their position.
We are also in touch with certain French and foreign officials. As they cannot be everywhere , they need sometimes unbiased and professional private intelligence agents to enlighten them on a particular situation. We can call that either "interlinks" or "exchange of tips", but it is not an extension of Intelligence Services at all.
One should not forget that most of big companies's Security Directors - our privileged relations- come from those Services... and some of our executives as well.
We choose our missions in the very respect of French interests. Our agency, however, is completely independent and private. So we do not have to give explanation to anybody but our clients.


VA: Would it be indiscreet to ask you some examples of your latest missions?
BD:
Of course, I am not allowed to give my clients'names, the first thing I owe to them being confidentiality. But I can tell you we often answer when we are asked accurate information (about competitivity in a region or in a country, for example); we take actions the purpose of which is to protect a definite society's intellectual and technological knowledge; or to protect our clients against fraud, corruption, and sometimes against drugs or kidnapping.
Depending on cases (and budgets...), we will decide either to send French agents for the mission time or to use local ressources. Indeed, sending 10 compatriots or so for months in order to supervise a security team on the other side of the globe is likely to be hugely expensive, but it is mandatory sometimes. Before, we have to see to it that "the game is worth the candle".
We have just finished a mission in Asia. It is a quite common contract, which started by estimating the threat with the clients. After seven months of cooperation, we have created the Safety Service. We have recruited, trained and helped Managers for the first weeks. In Autumn, we will valid or not the organization and procedures we have installed. If necessary, we will propose some improvements or corrective measures.
I can also hold up in example our latest mission in Colombia. We were put in charge of protecting a team of expatriates against the country's internal risks (kidnapping, drugs, guerillas,...). Rumours were going on in the city about threats against their safety. They were unjustified and we proved it.
For example, an industrialist challenged us to inform him about one of his foreign subsidiaries' computer system. "What do you need ?", he asked us. " An hotel room with electrical and telephone plugs would be great." Four days later, we visited the entire computer network. We thus discovered two undernetworks our clients were unaware of.


VA : Do you think, inside a company, there is a real difference between inquiries and information?
BD:
Suppose you had an expatriates'group in Colombia. Why following through the situation everyday would be called "watch" when nothing is happening, and "information" when a theft or abduction attempt has failed ?
Nowadays, strategic information is part of a global process. It would not be relevant to divide it into several categories (watch, information, ...) and, in my opinion, there is no fundamental difference between them.
I just would say that the information collected through enquiries is available at the right time.


VA : Would you say that a world economic war takes place through the race for information?
BD:
The companies that will be leading the market in the future will be those that will manage to find valuable information at the right time and protect themselves effectively.
Certain French companies are real "glass-made houses". Most of the time, they have invested large sums in collecting, hunting down, and acquiring economic information, without taking care of data protecting. The consequences may be disastrous. It is a real cultural problem, because most big companies still neglect their defensive strategies. They actually limit themselves to some administrative directives, which are moreover seldom applied.
I can affirm that we have succeeding in breaking into 90% of our clients' computer systems. It took us between two hours and three months, depending on safety levels. Just imagine their surprise when we arrived we entire binders full of information from their most sensitive databases... They had ordered this mission but thought they were well protected.
I insist, but reinforcing computer systems'security should be a permanent state of mind.
For instance, travelling managers do not think enough about it. I am referring to spying in hotels. I can tell you a story that happened in 1999, in a Mexico City palace, during a managers' meeting of a multinational company that had newly set up an agency in Mexico.
On being called to the hotel reception, the "manager-target" left his suite. As he did not see anybody, he turned back to his room and, of couse, his PC had disappeared. We realized after a "tight" hour of discussion with the "victim", that his computer contained the group's strategic plan of the three years to come.
After watching security videos (corridors were under surveillance), it seemed clear that the thief did not look like a usual hotel thief ( he was wearing an expensive made-to-measure suit as well as costly shoes and tie...). We understood quickly he was a professional, financed by an American competitor. Such stories are more and more frequent abroad, also in Paris ! Industrial espionage is increasing. It is actually a war where everything is allowed!