While speaking at a security forum in London earlier this week, General Martin Dempsey, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, warned that the constant barrage of cyber attacks against critical systems will require a unified effort by government and the private sector to improve security.
Dempsey reiterated what many experts have been saying for years - that cyber-based espionage operations are a major threat to proprietary information and ultimately the economy as a whole.
"We lose enormous intellectual property rights. We're under constant attack every day. And it's going to take a whole government approach," Dempsey said.
Dempsey's sentiments are bolstered by a recently released report form the United States Office of the Counterintelligence Executive (ONCIX) that documents the billions of dollars in intellectual property and classified information being lost every year to cyber espionage.
The report, titled Foreign pies Stealing U.S. Economic Secrets in Cyberspace, boldly suggests that state-sponsored entities in both China and Russia are systematically targeting US government and private sector networks in an effort to pilfer valuable information that has tremendous economic value.
"This is a serious threat to our economy, yet it's so new that government officials don't know what would be an appropriate response,” said Scott Borg, director of the non-profit policy think tank the US Cyber Consequences Unit.
House Intelligence Committee Chairman Mike Rogers hosted a discussion on Tuesday regarding the protection of American innovation in cyberspace at a press event sponsored by several telecom industry interest groups.
The event followed last week's announcement that the Intelligence Committee has launched an investigation into possible threats posed by Chinese telecom companies operating within the United States.
Chairman Rogers had previously initiated a preliminary inquiry into Chinese espionage operations which subsequently determined the need for further investigation into threats aimed at the U.S. technology supply chain, critical infrastructure, proprietary information, and intellectual property.
The committee's focus thus far surrounds concerns over Chinese telecom giant Huawei and their relationship to the People's Liberation Army (PLA).
"The fact that our critical infrastructure could be used against us is of serious concern. We are looking at the overall infrastructure threat and Huawei happens to be the 800 pound gorilla in the room, but there are other companies that will be included in the investigation as well. As the formal investigation begins, I stand by my caution to the American business community about engaging Huawei technology until we can fully determine their motives," said Rogers.