US Plans Assault On Cyber IP Thieves

Following weeks of reports of cyber attacks on US firms, allegedly perpetrated by China, the White House has said it will be ramping up diplomatic pressure and preparing laws to protect American interests from IP thieves.

Talking about the Obama administration’s plans to roll out a trade secrets strategy, attorney general Eric Holder (pictured above) said the US had to protect its businesses from outside forces, especially from those IP thieves using the Internet as a platform for their attacks.

IP thieves

“By corrupting insiders, hiring hackers, and engaging in other unscrupulous and illegal activities, … entities can inflict devastating harm on individual creators, start-ups, and major companies,” he said.

“As one private security expert has said of the largest US corporations, there are only ‘two categories’ of companies affected by trade secret theft – ‘[T]hose that know they’ve been compromised and those that don’t know yet’.

“This is because, as new technologies have torn down traditional barriers to international business and global commerce, they’ve also made it easier for criminals to steal trade secrets – and to do so from anywhere in the world.

“A hacker in China can acquire source code from a software company in Virginia without leaving his or her desk.”

Holder said there was a “need to increase cooperation and coordination between partners at every level of government”.

Notable American victims of IP theft include General Motors, Ford and Motorola, now owned by Google. Apple, Facebook and Twitter have all admitted to being victims of hack attacks this month, but no important data appeared to have gone missing.

The comments came after a hefty report from US security firm Mandiant claimed it was likely widespread hacking of English-speaking businesses was being carried out by the People’s Liberation Army of China.

China has denied the report’s allegations, and other claims it hacked into US media organisations, including the New York Times.

President Obama has already signed off an executive order requiring federal agencies to share cyber threat information with businesses. The order will also see the formation of a cyber security framework to protect critical infrastructure providers.

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Thomas Brewster

Tom Brewster is TechWeek Europe's Security Correspondent. He has also been named BT Information Security Journalist of the Year in 2012 and 2013.

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