Attempts by foreign governments, individuals and government-associated groups to steal intellectual property, state secrets and other sensitive data from U.S. companies and government agencies are ratcheting up and government officials say the threat has become especially “persistent, pervasive, and insidious” in the last couple of years. Much of the threat is coming from China and other countries in East Asia, and officials say they expect economic espionage activity from that region to continue to focus on the theft of IT, aerospace and military technologies.
The assessment of attacks targeting U.S. companies, defense contractors and government agencies comes from an annual report from the Defense Security Service, and the outlook is not optimistic. The report, which is based on data collected from companies doing classified work for the federal government, shows that attempts by attackers from around the world to illegally access confidential data increased by 75 percent in fiscal year 2011, compared with 2010. The volume of attempts from each specific region–East Asia and Pacific, Near East, Europe and Eurasia, South and Central Asia–remained relatively constant from year to year, but the overall number of reports from companies in the cleared industrial base jumped significantly.