SAN FRANCISCO, CA, USA Monday December 1st, 2014 Striker Pierce CEO and Rift Recon Intelligence Instructor Brian O’ Shea will be presenting at the International Conference on Corporate Espionage and Industrial Security (ICCE) in Ottawa today. Rift Recon staffer Arianna Travaglini hopped on the phone with O’Shea recently to discuss the impending presentation.
How did you get involved with ICCE this year?
This is my inaugural year attending ICCE. I was contacted by [Northgate CEO] Michel Juneau Katsuya a few months back; he’d heard about my reputation for collecting intelligence and wanted me to submit a proposal to present on a topic akin to catching spies using advice from other spies. It sounded right up my alley, so I did.
Wonderful! Tell me more about your presentation.
My talk is called Inside the Mind of a Spy: Understanding the Threat by Understanding the Corporate Spy Methodology. It’s going to address the lopsided focus that a lot of security professionals have put on the cyber threat while underestimating the social threat. I’ll define the term “competitive intelligence” and explain how Striker Pierce uses social hacking and engineering to accomplish a greater goal. In doing so, we’re not simply trying to penetrate the target company – rather, we’ve perfected that art to create ongoing intelligence networks from the target’s own internal employees while the employees remain largely unwitting to the fact that they’re supplying crucial information. The vast majority of the time we get the best intelligence from current and former employees who don’t even know they’re part of the collection effort.
Can you expand upon this? How can these target company employees be unwitting to your process?
We’ve been doing this kind of human intelligence collection for years. I treat the process as a seduction; you’re delicately drawing people in. You first do your research on the target company so that when you ask the target employees questions, they’re always in the context of the industry, thereby adding to your credibility. You intentionally insert yourself in their lives and spend time forging a tenable bond with them.
Unbeknownst to them, you’re training them to feed you information, creating a conduit. You let trust build both organically and via strategic moves. For example, after I’ve spent a significant period of time with a target individual, I’ll often test their trustworthiness by doing something like dropping a folder containing clearly-marked “Confidential” files. Nine times out of ten they hand the folder back to you without so much as a glance. The stronger the relationship, the more questions you ask. The more questions you ask, the farther you inch your way in. And the farther in you are, the more company information that employee unconsciously gives you.
Once we’ve collected information from multiple sources, we practice a triangulatory technique, combining and overlapping the data we’ve uncovered from employees and applying in-depth secondary research. At that point it’s easy to fill in the blanks.
That sounds fascinating. I’m sure the talk will be very well-received! Are there any other presentations or events at ICCE that you’re looking forward to?
Absolutely. There are two challenges that I’m looking forward to participating in: the Casino Security Centre challenge, where you get to survey and attempt to breach the highly sophisticated security and surveillance systems at the Lac-Leamy Casino, and the Bugged Room challenge, where you get the opportunity to see how a room can be bugged and how easy it is to be unwittingly spied via hidden microphones and cameras.
Brian O’Shea is the CEO and Senior Investigator at Striker Pierce. Brian has spent over 20 years in the field of investigations and intelligence working first in military intelligence for two Special Forces groups and then for two different government agencies. Brian left government service to enter the world of boutique intelligence, focusing on corporate and executive clients, and finally founded Striker-Pierce. Brian is featured in several publications on body language and human lie detection, has worked intelligence and investigations in over 27 different countries, and has solved over 500 domestic and international cases involving fraud, theft, corporate espionage, patent infringement. Mr. O’Shea has also been a featured speaker at Reed Smith’s Cyber Security Roundtable, has been a guest instructor for a San Francisco based “Escape and Evasion” school, and has managed investigations and intelligence operations for several Fortune 500 companies and international financial firms. Brian is a Certified Private Security Instructor in the Commonwealth of Virginia, has been certified in various disciplines by numerous law enforcement and intelligence organizations, and is a guest instructor for courses focused on social engineering, lie detection, and information elicitation. Brian holds 3 undergraduate degrees and a Master’s of Criminal Justice from Boston University.
– Arianna Travaglini
Executive Assistant at Rift Recon