The New Reality of State Sponsored Attacks on US Businesses

The Lawfare Podcast is one of my few staples, and I just listened to another great episode on espionage against US buisnesses.

My main takeaway was this:

Foreign governments—and especially China—are pivoting from targeting other governments for their secrets, to instead going after private companies because that’s where most of the intellectual property is.

The guests, Bill Priestap and Holden Triplett, give tons of great background and examples for this claim, and they go onto basically say that this is just a new reality—kind of like terrorism.

They also make another interesting point, which is that the US is behind in recognizing that economic power is national power, and in their willingness to use the intelligence apparatus to further those economic goals.

In other words, other governments just plainly state to themselves that the future of the country lies in its economic strength, and thus it must use its intelligence capabilities to make itself more powerful economically.

Which often means stealing IP from both friend and foe.

The US has been reluctant to use its intelligence capabilities in this way. The FBI, for example, might tell a company that they’re being targeted by a foreign adversary, and how to protect themselves, but they’re not doing that to give that company an advantage in a global marketplace.

They’re doing it because that company is considered part of home base, and their mission is to protect home base.

I think this is a really interesting distinction, and I wonder how long it’ll take the US to “catch up” to how others are thinking about this.


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