Cyber Attacks and Intellectual Property Theft

By Kevin Coleman -- Defense Tech Cyberwarfare Correspondent

The United States is currently the largest producer of intellectual property (IP) in the world. In fact the United States Patent and Trademark office recently issued the 8,000,000 patent. Anyone who has been associated with the application and patenting process knows how difficult and demanding this effort is and the degree of difficulty in obtaining patent protection. The magnitude of intellectual property in the U.S. and the economic implications makes preventing intellectual property theft a critical imperative for businesses, as well as the federal government and law enforcement. This is not a trivial effort. Given the increased frequency and sophistication of cyber attacks on corporate systems where their trade secrets and other IP is stored, security professional and many law enforcement organizations have raised the flag of concern about our vulnerability to IP theft, as well as the seemingly continuous cyber attacks that target these assets.

A highly successful cyber attack that occurred this year has been called the largest theft of intellectual property in history. Such attacks are not limited to the U.S. Defense Industry. They actually span across our industrial base. The true impact of intellectual property theft on the U.S. economy is unknown. Many organizations are not required to nor do they report IP thefts. Loss of sales revenue, lost of dollars invested in research and development, and loss of customer and investor confidence are all possible results from these covert operations.

Executives are entrusted with the assets of their companies and IP represents a substantial portion of those assets. The time has come for executives to become fully engaged in cyber security given their corporate crown jewels are at great risk.

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