June 19, 2014

Cyber Insecurity

In the era of Edward Snowden and NSA privacy issues, businesses and consumers are focusing more and more on cybersecurity and online protection of property – specifically intellectual property (IP).  In fact, this week, former FBI chief Louis Freeh warned a collection of security experts at a convention in San Antonio that, “Corporate governance groups have enormous concerns over their companies not understanding the protection of intellectual property.  It’s a critical part of our economic and national security.”
Specifically, Freeh was referring to the Security Exchange Commission and financial data, but that represents just one of many industries who are impacted by the potential theft of IP.  Beyond data, IP comes in the forms of patents, trade secrets, copyrighted materials and trademarks.
U. S. Chamber President and CEO, Tom Donohue said recently in his column, “Many cybersecurity experts say that there are two types of businesses today — those that have been hacked and know it, and those that have been hacked and don’t know it.”
Adding to the chorus of concerned voices, in a Forbes article, Chip Tsantes, head of cybersecurity of financial services at EY (formerly Ernst & Young) said:  “Five years ago it was protecting money, but now threat actors, nation states and hactivists are looking to disrupt, embarrass, steal IP or help their domestic industries. The number of targets has increased, techniques have gotten better and they are going after a wide array of targets.”
Whether it is corporate or personal, online integrity of IP is under attack.  Consumers have a heightened level of concern, and are increasingly taking steps to protect themselves against identity theft and theft of personal data, and must remain vigilant against dangerous fakes online.
But the additional risk is the potential economic loss.  The industries worried the most about cyber attacks are IP intensive industries, which we know to represent a huge number of high paying jobs – 40 million in the U.S. paying over 42% more than other sectors.  Among the industries are high-tech firms, engineering giants, defense contractors, Internet companies and computer software leaders.
Last year, Steve Bennett, then head of the of the leading software firm Symantec best known for Norton Antivirus (TM) and close ally of the Administration, said:  “What I’m most concerned about for the world is the economic threat if intellectual property is transferred from IP creators to countries with lower costs,” he said. “It will have a big negative impact on global economic growth.”
As we discuss major issues around cyber security, including national security and military secrets, companies need to be vigilant in their focus on intellectual property and need to take active steps to address their own security.
The U.S. Chamber of Commerce has developed a few tools to help businesses of all sizes address these issues.  The Framework for Improving Critical Infrastructure Cybersecurity and Internet Security Essentials for Business 2.0 guidebook are two excellent resources to help access internal systems and develop strategies for addressing potential threats.
For more information, please see the U. S. Chamber’s national security website: www.cybersecurityadvocacy.com.

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