On Wednesday evening, the White House finally released a report that unveiled a new strategy the government plans to enforce on China and other countries that engage in corporate cyber-espionage against the United States. This strategy will include increased U.S. trade restrictions on products stemming from stolen trade secrets, and a series of diplomatic actions.
Titled "Administration Strategy on Mitigating Theft of U.S. Trade Secrets", the 141-page document, which can be accessed here, doesn't specify action that will be taken against China specifically, but does list examples of Chinese theft of corporate secrets, using the word "China" 120 times. The Obama administration states that trade-secret theft is a major threat to both national and economic security.
"Trade-secret theft threatens American businesses, undermines national security, and places the security of the U.S. economy in jeopardy," the document states. "These acts also diminish U.S. export prospects around the globe and put American jobs at risk."
Part of the strategy proposed in the report will see local law enforcement and intelligence agencies provide the private sector with information on how to counterspy, and warnings about emerging corporate espionage threats. These warnings will include key aspects about the threat including industry sectors most targeted, how the espionage is being conducted, the number of foreign governments involved, and their identity.
The State Department will also reportedly deliver a consistent and "appropriate" message to foreign governments that communicates the Obama administration's increased commitment in reducing the theft of intellectual property. The government also plans to work with allies to put pressure on countries stealing intellectual property.
Washington's plan arrives after security specialists Mandiant released a report pinning down recent hacks to the People's Liberation Army in China. Since 2006, "hundreds of terabytes" have been stolen from at least 141 organizations, 115 of which reside within the United States. Twenty different industrial sectors have been targeted, spanning from energy and aerospace to transportation and financial institutions.
Mandiant said in its report that Chinese hackers break into a network and then periodically revisits over several months or years to steal broad categories of intellectual property. This info includes technology blueprints, proprietary manufacturing processes, emails, contact lists and more.
Incidents linked to China over the past several years include Google, RSA Security Inc., Lockheed Martin, Nortel Networks Corp., The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, The Washington Post and many more. Other possible Chinese-related hacks include Facebook, Twitter and Apple although suspected ties to the Chinese government have not been made public.
Meanwhile, the Foreign Ministry claims that China has also suffered hacks, some of which was traced back to the United States. A 2012 report provided the Ministry of Information Technology and Industry even claims that in that year alone, 1,400 computers and 38,000 websites based in China have suffered foreign attacks – most of which were conducted by the United States.
To read the Obama administration's strategy on mitigating the theft of U.S.-based trade secrets, the PDF file is located here.