Competitive Analysis: We have covered some great tools so far, but there is another way of gathering useful data that may not seem as obvious; Competitive Analysis.
The report created through competitive analysis provides information such as product information, project data, financial status, and in some cases intellectual property.
Good places to obtain competitive information are the following:
- EDGAR (the Electronic Data-Gathering, Analysis, and Retrieval system) contains reports publicly traded companies make to the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC). Learn more at sec.gov/edgar.shtml.
- LexisNexis maintains a database of public record information on companies that includes details such as legal news and press releases. Learn more at lexisnexis.com/en-us/home.page.
- BusinessWire (businesswire.com/portal/site/home/) is another great resource that provides information about the status of a company as well as financial and other data.
- CNBC (cnbc.com) offers a wealth of company details as well as future plans and in-depth analysis.
NOTE: If you want the best advice on how to research a company, the most effective resource typically are not found in the information security or IT area;
Rather, they are in the financial area. If you treat a company with the same type of scrutiny and interest that an investor in that corporation does, you can gain a tremendous amount of information.
In my experience as an amateur investor, I have found that many of the techniques that I learned from my investing carried over to my security career.
If you want to sharpen your skills, consider reading book or two on stock investing and how to research your investments.
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?
NOTE: 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, and 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, your may be able to gain valuable insight into how your target is moving or what their intensions are.