WASHINGTON (AP) — The Obama administration announced new efforts Wednesday to fight the growing theft of American trade secrets, a broad but relatively restrained response to a rapidly emerging global problem that was brought into sharp focus this week by fresh evidence linking cyberstealing to China’s military.
Mentioning China but not specifically targeting that country, Attorney General Eric Holder announced the plan, which includes a new diplomatic push to discourage intellectual property theft abroad along with better coordination at home to help U.S. companies protect themselves.
The administration says indications are that economic espionage is increasing, not only through electronic intrusion over the Internet but also through the recruitment of former employees of U.S. companies with knowledge of inside trade information.
“A hacker in China can acquire source code from a software company in Virginia without leaving his or her desk. With a few keystrokes, a terminated or simply unhappy employee of a defense contractor can misappropriate designs, processes, and formulas worth billions of dollars,” Holder said.
President Barack Obama signed an executive order last week aimed at helping protect the computer networks of American industries from cyberattacks.
It called for the development of voluntary standards to protect the computer systems that run critical sectors of the economy such as the banking, power and transportation industries. It directed U.S. defense and intelligence agencies to share classified threat data with those companies.
He also prodded Congress during his State of the Union address to go further.