One of the biggest cyber threats that many US companies face is the theft of their intellectual property (IP). This includes trade secrets, patents, software, and copies of tangible goods. The recently released “Update to the IP Commission Report” gives tangible, current information on all four categories. The original report was published in 2013 amidst headlines about Chinese cyber-attacks on US businesses. The conclusion of the February 2017 update report is that IP theft continues, although the headline-grabbing thefts may have dropped off. Not all intellectual property results exclusively from a cyber-attack, although most thefts are cyber-enabled.
The most notable report points related specifically to trade secret theft are:
- Total loss to the US economy in the range of $180-$540 billion per year
- IP-intensive firms are responsible for 35% of jobs in the US labor force
- No evidence that China has stopped hacking US firms
The updated report also includes recommendations, including those for improved cybersecurity:
- Implement vulnerability mitigation measures such as information sharing
- Support US companies that can identify and recover IP stolen through cyber means
- Reconcile needed changes in the law with changing technical environment
The report is a good read for anyone interested in locking down trade secrets and other intangible assets against cyber thieves.
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