The report title spells it out: “Foreign Spies Stealing U.S. Economic Secrets in Cyberspace.”
A slender document - 20 pages - that was presented last week to Congress by the Office of the National Counterintelligence Executive, the report has a simple if frightening message: computers in US businesses, government agencies and financial institutions are continually probed by experts spies operating out of foreign countries, said intellectual property attorney Jake Holdreith with Robins, Kaplan, Miller & Ciresi in Minneapolis, Minn.
“It’s no surprise that a lot of information gets stolen,” said Holdreith.
The report plainly puts the threat: “Foreign economic collection and industrial espionage against the United States represent significant and growing threats to the nation’s prosperity and security.
"Cyberspace—where most business activity and development of new ideas now takes place—amplifies these threats by making it possible for malicious actors, whether they are corrupted insiders or foreign intelligence services (FIS), to quickly steal and transfer massive quantities of data while remaining anonymous and hard to detect.”
Prime movers in cross-border cyber espionage, according to the National Counterintelligence Executive, are China (“”the world’s most active and persistent perpetrators of economic espionage”) and in a trailing second place, Russia.
The Executive also pointed out in its report that U.S. allies and partners – and in some cases, business partners of U.S.-based organizations – are also active perpetrators of cyber espionage.
One stark conclusion: few U.S. businesses (and this would include credit unions) are anywhere near as safe from cyber attacks as they may believe, said the experts.
The Executive, meanwhile, forecasts more and more cyber spying in the near-term, as more data moves online, creating yet more attractive targets.