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2/20/2013
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U.S. Trade Secret Strategy Targets Hackers

Amidst new reports of theft of intellectual property by Chinese hackers, the White House on Wednesday released a new strategy to fight trade secret theft.

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In the face of increasing concerns about the theft of U.S. intellectual property by foreign hackers, the White House Wednesday rolled out a strategy to protect U.S. trade secrets.

Attorney General Eric Holder, General Electric general counsel Karan Bhatia and other government and industry officials we among those speaking at a Wednesday afternoon White House event to announce the strategy document.

"We are fighting back more aggressively and more collaboratively than ever before [and] are poised to build on our recent successes," Holder said at the event. "We need to increase cooperation and coordination, we need to find ways to work together more effectively and efficiently, and we need to do so starting immediately because continuing technological expansion could lead to a dramatic increase in trade secret theft."

[ Want more on U.S. cybersecurity guidelines? Read White House Cybersecurity Executive Order: What It Means. ]

The White House places the fight against cyber attacks squarely at the center of its strategy. "U.S. companies, law firms, academia and financial institutions are experiencing cyber intrusion activity against electronic repositories containing trade secret information," the White House wrote in the introduction to the report.

Officials tied the plan to a recently issued White House executive order on cybersecurity that encourages cyber threat information sharing and adoption of cybersecurity standards. "We believe this new framework will ultimately improve the resiliency of businesses and prevent theft," Department of Commerce deputy secretary Rebecca Blank said at the White House event.

The release of the plan comes only a day after cybersecurity company Mandiant released a 60-page investigative report claiming that the Chinese military is behind many attacks against American companies over the last several years. China quickly denied involvement in any such attacks and slammed what it said was lack of proof in the report. Assistant attorney general Lanny Breuer, head of the Department of Justice's criminal division, cited the report at the event in detailing his concerns about trade secret theft.

Earlier in February, the President used the State of the Union address to express the need to combat the theft of trade secrets. "We know foreign countries and companies swipe our corporate secrets," Obama said. "We cannot look back years from now and wonder why we did nothing in the face of real threats to our security and our economy.

The new strategy has five key parts, including coordinated international engagement, an effort to spur companies to look at their internal policies and encourage sharing of best practices to prevent trade secret theft, increased law enforcement efforts, efforts to strengthen trade secret laws such as recently happened when Congress closed loopholes for theft of source code, and increasing public awareness of trade secret theft problems.

In addition to Holder, Batia and Blank, other officials participating in the strategy announcement included U.S. intellectual property enforcement coordinator Victoria Espinel, Under Secretary of State for Economic Growth Robert Hormats, deputy U.S. trade representative Demetrios Marantis, national counterintelligence executive of the Office of the Director of National Intelligence Frank Montoya, Information Technology Industry Council CEO Dean Garfield, and American Superconductor Corp. general counsel John Powell.

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