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16 Aug 2010

Richard A. Clarke warns US about industrial espionage

Richard A. Clarke evidently has a knack for writing contentious books on information and national security topics.  His latest co-authored book, Cyber War: The Next Threat to National Security and What to Do About It, prompts the federal government and corporate America to wake up to the threat.

Writing about the book for Bloomberg BusinessWeek, Rochelle Garner says one of Clarke's key messages is:
Get serious about industrial espionage. Clarke says many companies aren't aware of how common trade-secret theft has become, partly because the federal government doesn't keep track of the financial consequences. He says the U.S. needs to be more like the U.K. More than a year ago, the security agency MI5 told the biggest 300 companies in Britain to assume their computers had been hacked by the Chinese and then met with executives to discuss the breaches it knew about and how to prevent future ones.

As with many other US authors, the implication seems to be that US readers should be concerned about foreign competitors, while seemingly ignoring the threat from those nearer home.  I find this rather xenophobic but typically American position strange.  The reality is that competitive intelligence and industrial espionage techniques are used by all the industrial nations, and most likely a high proportion of the third world too.  US companies should be concerned about spies and infiltrators from all sources including insiders, other US and foreign companies, home and foreign governments, the criminal underworld, 'analysts', hackers and 'free agents' who will happily exploit valuable information on anybody/anything to make a fast buck.  It's not all about the Chinese.


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