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The Footprinting Process - Competitive Analysis

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  • The Footprinting Process - Competitive Analysis

    There are many great tools to aid in the process of footprinting, but there is another way of gathering useful data that may not seem as obvious: Competitive Analysis. The reports created through competitive analysis provide information such as product information, project data, financial status, and in some cases intellectual property.

    Good places to obtain competitive information are...

    The Electronic Data-Gathering, Analysis, and Retrieval system contains reports publicly traded companies makes to the Securities & Exchange Comission (SEC).

    LexisNexis maintains a database of public record information on companies that includes detailed information such as legal news and press releases.

    BusinessWire is another great resource that provides information about the status of a company as well as financial and other data.

    CNBC offers a wealth of company details as well as future plans and in-depth analysis.

    When analyzing these resources, look for specific types of information that can prove insightful such as the following:
    • When did the company begin? How did it evolve? Such information gives insight into their business strategy and philosophy as well as corporate culture.
    • Who are the leaders of the company? Further background analysis of these individuals may be possible.
    • Where are the headquarters and offices located?

    In security, as in other areas, there is the idea of inference. Simply put, if you cannot fully tell what your target company is up to, then look at its competitors to see what they know. In the business world, corporate espionage is common, and competitors often know things that the public doesn't. By analyzing this information or how a competitor is strategizing, you may be able to gain valuable insight into how your target is moving or what their intentions are.

    When doing competitive analysis there are several ways to go about accomplishing this task
    • Company websites and employment ads
    • Search engines, the Internet and online databases
    • Press Releases and annual reports
    • Trade journals, conferences and newspapers
    • Patent and trademarks
    • Social engineering employees
    • Product catalogs and retail outlets
    • Analyst and regulatory reports
    • Customer and vendor interviews
    • Agents, distributors and suppliers

    Certified Security Geek