Countering the cyber espionage threat from China and Russia

Nov 29, 2011

It's official: China and Russia are the two biggest sources of cyber espionage attacks against the United States.

The Office of the National Counterintelligence Executive singled out those two nations in a recent report to Congress (coincidentally, it's been difficult to reach the counterintelligence website since the report came out and those links may not work).

Our technology commentator, Strategic News Service publisher Mark Anderson, has been warning about this threat for several years. Although the news is no surprise, Mark thinks the official acknowledgement will encourage governments and corporations to more closely guard their secrets.

Be protected

How can you safeguard your corporate secrets? Mark says the simplest way is to take them offline. Here's what he recommended in a special bulletin to SNS subscribers earlier this year:

  1. Identify the real crown jewels of your Intellectual Property portfolio.
  2. Sequester these on a separate server(s), and unplug them from the Net. If necessary, create a separate network, not Net connected, for these assets.
  3. Review policies for access to these crown jewels; reduce the headcount from whatever it is today, to a very small number. Many thefts (Ford, Dow, Motorola) are by employees turned into spies.
  4. Make IP protection a C-level responsibility, with ongoing reviews and vigilance, reporting to the CEO. Consider a VP-IP position.
  5. Finally, if you are attacked, mirror the courage of Google and Intel and Motorola: speak up. In the past, most haven't: this plays right into the plans of the attackers. Stop being a victim, and start being a part of the solution. We need leaders to stand up and denounce the hacks, and the hackers.

In the long run, Mark favors the carrot over the stick:

The United States and its trading partners need to emphasize that they want to do preferential trade deals with companies and countries that also protect intellectual property.

The Digital Future” is a monthly interview with technology expert Mark Anderson covering the online world and all things digital. The feature is published here on the last Tuesday of every month and airs on KPLU 88.5 during Morning Edition and All Things Considered.