Last Christmas Eve, a man broke into Adara Networks’ San Jose headquarters, using copies of both physical and electronic keys. He seemed to know exactly what he was looking for. The thief left rows of desks untouched as he cruised toward the lab holding the source code for Adara’s proprietary data-center networking software. Fortunately for Adara, he triggered an alarm on the lab door and fled.
“Snatch and grab” crimes, in which crooks enter an office and carts off a few loose laptops, happen occasionally in Silicon Valley. Chief Executive Officer Eric Johnson sensed that his case was more serious, though. Adara’s next-generation networking technology could be attractive to nations hoping to capture more of the global telecommunications market. So Johnson brought in contractors to sweep the offices for bugs, in case a foreign government was listening. Adara executives sent an e-mail to staff that detailed the break-in and urged vigilance: Everyone at the company was ordered to be on lockdown, say several current and former employees who wouldn’t speak on the record for fear of upsetting the CEO. Through intermediaries, Johnson declined to comment.