Nations, Enterprises Must Get Serious About Cyber-Security

By Wayne Rash  |  Posted 2011-11-07 Print this article Print

We also send spies to lots of other nations and so does Russia. But it's not just us. Israel famously spent a great deal of effort and money spying on the U.S., one of its closest allies. So has another traditional U.S. ally, France. I have no doubt that the U.S. government is collecting intelligence on our allies as well as our adversaries. This sort of activity has taken place as long as there have been nations with competing interests, and it should be no surprise that it continues.

It should be noted that every nation that I've mentioned has routinely denied that they're conducting cyber-espionage. This should also not be a surprise. Pro-forma outrage at the suggestion that we or anyone else is doing something as unsavory as spying is also part of the game. You don't dare admit to intelligence gathering because it would be well, tacky. Or maybe undiplomatic.

But we are, and we should be, gathering intelligence through cyber-espionage. It's in the national interest of the U.S. and it's in the national interest of all those other countries.

China is a special case. That country has taken cyber-espionage to a whole new level and is using the information it gathers for more than its national defense. It passes vast collections of stolen intellectual property to the companies in China that compete with the outside world so that they can make things better, cheaper or get them to market sooner.

The Chinese integration of their military with their companies is analogous to sending the Chinese army to U.S. companies to break into their buildings and steal documents. Of course, the Chinese don't do that-probably because they think we'd notice. But what they are doing is no different.

Fortunately, companies can implement security measures that will slow down if not defeat Chinese attempts at intrusion. But to do that, companies have to take security more seriously than they do now. When big companies with supposedly good security are being hit by viruses and Trojans, there's no reason to think that the Chinese can't also get in.

So yes, it's true that foreign governments are trying to steal your data. You have the means to prevent it, and the U.S. government will even help. But you have to take the problem seriously first and spend the effort and money to have actual security for your data systems. 


Wayne Rash Wayne Rash is a Senior Analyst for eWEEK Labs and runs the magazineÔÇÖs Washington Bureau. Prior to joining eWEEK as a Senior Writer on wireless technology, he was a Senior Contributing Editor and previously a Senior Analyst in the InfoWorld Test Center. He was also a reviewer for Federal Computer Week and Information Security Magazine. Previously, he ran the reviews and events departments at CMP's InternetWeek.

He is a retired naval officer, a former principal at American Management Systems and a long-time columnist for Byte Magazine. He is a regular contributor to Plane & Pilot Magazine and The Washington Post.

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