• 04.23.13

State-Sponsored Industrial Espionage Is Number Two Cyber Threat, After Stealing

Manufacturers and transport firms should pay particular attention, as they are the top target for online attacks.

State-Sponsored Industrial Espionage Is Number Two Cyber Threat, After Stealing

Cyber-attacks in order to gather industrial secrets are now the second biggest online threat, according to a report published today. In fact, says one of the compilers of Verizon’s annual data breach report, in which the figures appear, there were so many industrial espionage-driven attacks last year, that a new category has been created for them.


Wade Baker, lead author of the report, which analysed 612 security breaches, says that three out of four attacks have a financial motive, but 20% of the attacks–that’s one in five–are after trade secrets or intellectual property. “The number one statistical change we noticed is the level of state-sponsored espionage,” he said. “That’s a lot higher.”

The methods used range from phishing to booby-trapping web pages, social engineering and finding security holes in popular apps. Mr Baker suggests that firms share their hacking experiences in order to increase awareness of the issue, as many firms do not realise their computer systems have been breached for months and months.

This is something that security firm Mandiant is aware of, and is aiming to become the go-to cyber-sleuths for the Fortune 1000 companies. Mandiant, you may remember, was hired by the New York Times to get to the bottom of its four-month hack, in which it discovered that the attacks were emanating from a People’s Liberation Army building.

China, of course, went on to accuse the U.S. of hacking its own defense websites. The Obama administration is still putting together its response to the sustained attacks on U.S. sites.

[Image by Flickr user fonzi74/gbCrates]

About the author

My writing career has taken me all round the houses over the past decade and a half--from grumpy teens and hungover rock bands in the U.K., where I was born, via celebrity interviews, health, tech and fashion in Madrid and Paris, before returning to London, where I now live. For the past five years I've been writing about technology and innovation for U.S.