US Companies Lost 13 Billion to EspionageThink that spies live only in movies and governments? Think again. A new testimony estimates that US companies lost $13 billion due to espionage last year.
In a testament to the subcommittee on Counterterrorism and Intelligence Committee on Homeland Security in the House, head of the FBI C. Frank Figiluzzi said that "economic espionage losses to the American economy total more than $13 billion." He continued,
"With each year, foreign intelligence services and their collectors become more creative and more sophisticated in their methods to undermine American business and erode the one thing that most provides American business its leading edge; our ability to innovate..."
"What we're seeing is that foreign nations and their intelligence services are understanding more than ever before that it's cheaper to steal our technology than to use their budget resources in this time of economic crisis to develop it themselves."
The $13 billion number is at best an educated guess, of course, but it is still a terrifyingly large number. And it seems that it is largely our own fault. A report published in Government Executive magazine found that those employed at the Department of Homeland Security routinely attach unauthorized devices to their computers. IT admins have seen everything from thumb drives to e-readers and GPS devices pop up.
The problem, according to the magazine, is that "they have no way of stopping personnel from hooking up devices to their workstations" and they try "to block the electronics from the network by distributing only government-procured devices and by educating employees not to use such devices on government computers." Which clearly isn't going to be enough.
We don't know how large the number is, exactly, because companies aren't required to divulge information on cyberattacks. But it is clear that espionage has become a major issue for US companies, and we ned to figure out what to do about it.