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Silicon Valley Targeted by Honeypot Spies

By George Khoury, Esq. on August 01, 2018 | Last updated on March 21, 2019

According to a recent report out of local Silicon Valley newspaper, the Mercury News, tech companies in the Silicon Valley area being targeted by Russian spies employing the "honeypot" routine.

What's a "honeypot" routine, you ask? Well, it's basically the stuff movies are made of. In short, it involves a spy engaging in a romantic relationship with a target in order to extract information. And in Silicon Valley, where tech companies rely on investor confidence, these honeypot spies present a potential security hole that tech visionaries might not be equipped to handle.

Sticky Tech Spies

According to the Mercury News report, a local, prominent, high-end Silicon Valley hotel, as well as other local businesses, have been the at center of many honeypot schemes. Allegedly, sex workers are used as spies for Russian intel officers. The spies target high level executives at tech companies, in order to gain sensitive information.

While the hotel denies the allegations, the report explains that the hotel has earned itself a certain reputation due to it being a popular drinking establishment, as well as hosting "cougar nights."

Interestingly, tech companies are easy targets for corporate espionage activity, due to the fact that most are reluctant to publicly disclose a data breach, even when the information wasn't stolen via hackers, but rather blackmailers or honeypots. The reluctance to disclose a data breach comes from the concern over investor confidence, as investors are generally nervous about trusting any company that can't safe guard their own data, let alone a tech company.

A Different Tech Honeypot

Notably, for many tech companies, a honeypot scheme is nothing new, but in tech, a honeypot is a little bit different. In tech, honeypots are used to identify, track, and stop hackers.

In tech terms, a honeypot isn't a spy, but rather, it's a red herring used to attract hackers who infiltrate a company's systems. Think of it as a folder on your desktop titled "Confidential Financial Information," and that folder contains fake/decoy information and an alarm that notifies network security when it is accessed.

While tech companies are usually ready to deal with high tech hackers, don't forget to advise them to be on the lookout for analog threats too.

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