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Making a Pitch for Information Security

I missed this story when it first came to a head, but was interested to read about a bit of potential industrial espionage that has come as a kick to the shins of the Premier League’s Manchester City Football Club.

Man City feared that a key scouting database used to evaluate prospects from across the globe had been breached and, with dirty work afoot, brought in a computer forensics expert to get to the bottom of the situation.

The scouting database is regarded as a key piece of intellectual property for the team as they invest extra time scouring the globe for potential talent that can be had for less money than better known players. The goal is to identify, evaluate, and sign the stars of tomorrow before their rivals and amass an arsenal of top talent without spending top dollar (er… Euro).

As such, Man City are jealous defenders of their scouting system and the names and information contained in the database. For another team to know who Man City is targeting might allow them to strike their own deal with that player, or at least express enough interest in a prospect to drive their price up. Therefore, keeping the lid on such high-value information must be a priority for any team.

In addition to its investigation, Man City anticipates sweeping changes to its business operations in order to minimize the potential for future breaches of its intellectual property.

The story should stoke fear in the heart of any business that relies on proprietary information to give it a competitive edge and spur an evaluation of its own information security practices.

At the very least, when industrial espionage hits big money world of European football, it gives me an excuse to exhaust my limited knowledge of the sport in a dribble of bad puns. (There are eleven, by the way… do me a favor and leave a comment if you can identify them all.)

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