US' intellectual capital is easy prey
- By Amber Corrin
- Apr 04, 2012
The United States' history as a leading innovator in technology, manufacturing and intellectual capital means cybersecurity must be understood as a matter of national security, according to one former National Security Agency official.
The stakes are high because intellectual property that is not adequately protected could fall into the hands of a foreign government looking to give its own industry a leg up, said Richard Schaeffer, principal at Security Innovation Network and former NSA information assurance director.
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“If you’ve got something that an adversary wants, they’re going to get it if they want it bad enough,” said Schaeffer, who spoke April 4 at the FOSE conference in Washington, D.C.
Already, the U.S. has lost at least hundreds of billions of dollars to malicious cyber infiltration.
“Gen. Alexander once made a statement in a public forum putting the number [associated with cyber fraud and theft loss] at a trillion dollars. Frankly I think the intellectual property loss over the long term is a lot larger than that,” Schaeffer said.
To start to fix the problem, private companies and the government both need to migrate critical networks and data to better-protected infrastructure, with network segmentation and hardened end-systems being key. A failure to do so could result in the U.S. falling behind as the innovation front-runner, he said.
“The reality is ... our way of life is tied to our innovation and intellectual property, and that should be a leading element [of formulating cyber defense],” Schaeffer said. “The loss of intellectual property is a problem today and it will be a problem tomorrow. We’re a young nation but we’ve been the number one innovator for a long time; I can’t think of being number two.”
Amber Corrin is a staff writer covering military networks for Defense Systems.