Cyber Espionage Report Fingers China and Russia

Thursday, November 03, 2011



The United States Office of the Counterintelligence Executive (ONCIX) has released a report that documents the billions of dollars in intellectual property and classified information being lost every year to cyber espionage.

The report, titled Foreign Spies Stealing U.S. Economic Secrets in Cyberspace, boldly suggests that state-sponsored entities in both China and Russia, among other offenders, are systematically targeting US government and private sector networks in an effort to pilfer valuable information that has tremendous economic value:

The threat to the United States from foreign economic collection and industrial espionage is appraised in these annual reports to Congress. Compiled by the ONCIX, these threat assessments represent significant contributions from the Counterintelligence Community.

Foreign Spies Stealing US Economic Secrets in CyberspaceThis assessment is submitted in compliance with the Intelligence Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 1995, Section 809(b), Public Law 103-359, as amended, which requires that the President biennially submit to Congress updated information on the threat to US industry from foreign economic collection and industrial espionage. This report updates the 14th Annual Report to Congress on Foreign Economic Collection and Industrial Espionage, 2008 and draws primarily on data from 2009-2011.

This report differs from previous editions in three important ways. The first and most significant is the focus. This report gives special attention to foreign collectors' exploitation of cyberspace, while not excluding other established tactics and methods used in foreign economic collection and industrial espionage. This reflects the fact that nearly all business records, research results, and other sensitive economic or technology-related information now exist primarily in digital form. Cyberspace makes it possible for foreign collectors to gather enormous quantities of information quickly and with little risk, whether via remote exploitation of victims' computer networks, downloads of data to external media devices, or e-mail messages transmitting sensitive information.

The second difference from prior reports is that, in addition to researching the large body of intelligence reporting and analysis on economic espionage produced by the Intelligence Community, the Department of Defense (DoD), and other US Government agencies, the drafters of this report consulted new sources of government information.

Third, the Office of the National Counterintelligence Executive (ONCIX) mobilized significant resources from outside the IC during the course of this study. This included outreach to the private sector and, in particular, sponsorship of a conference in November 2010 on cyber-enabled economic espionage at which 26 US Government agencies and 21 private-sector organizations were represented. ONCIX also contracted with outside experts to conduct studies of the academic literature on the cost of economic espionage and the role of the cyber "underground economy."

The full ONCIX report can be found here:


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