The White House has just announced a new strategy to combat the theft of US trade secrets, created in coordination with several US agencies including the Departments of Defense, Homeland Security, Justice, and State. The strategy, detailed in a 141-page document, focuses on 5 action items, including diplomatic efforts, cooperation with private industry to promote best practices in security, enhanced law enforcement operations and legislation, and public outreach. The White House says that "the Administration will continue to act vigorously to combat the theft of American trade secrets that could be used by foreign companies or foreign governments to gain an unfair commercial advantage."
Today's announcement follows a spate of admissions by US companies that hackers had infiltrated their systems in recent months, sometimes employing elaborate and sophisticated attacks over long periods of time. Recent victims have included The Wall Street Journal, The Washington Post, The New York Times, Facebook, and even Apple. Yesterday, The New York Times released an explosive report implicating the Chinese military in a number of international cyber attacks, based on an investigation from security firm Mandiant. China has denied the claims, calling them "scientifically flawed" and "unprofessional."
The report does not single out China, but government officials aren't afraid to call it out
The new strategy report does not single out China as a bad actor, but government officials named Chinese interference as a threat at a press conference announcing the strategy. The report says that the government will make a coordinated effort to pressure foreign governments on intellectual property protection. "Other governments must recognize that trade secret protection is vital to the success of our economic relationships," the report says. "They must take steps to strengthen their enforcement against trade secret theft." The report says that the United States will seek new provisions on trade secret protections that honor US law through international trade negotiations including the Trans Pacific Partnership.
"Trade secret theft threatens American businesses, undermines national security, and places the security of the US economy in jeopardy," the report says. "These acts also diminish US export prospects around the globe and put American jobs at risk."
Both the White House and Congress have stepped up cybersecurity efforts
This year, both the White House and Congress have significantly stepped up cybersecurity efforts. Today's announcement follows recent efforts by President Obama to bolster US trade defenses, including a new law that enhanced penalties for violations of the Economic Espionage Act. Last week, President Obama signed an executive order allowing the government to share more information on national "cyber threats" with private companies. And Congress last Wednesday reintroduced CISPA, a controversial bill that would allow companies to share information about suspicious activity and security breaches with the government.
In an announcement today regarding the new strategy, US Attorney General Eric Holder said that US prosperity "attracts global rivals," and warned of the danger posed by foreign agents. Holder said the Justice Department has made economic espionage cases a top priority.