© The Financial Times Ltd 2015 FT and 'Financial Times' are trademarks of The Financial Times Ltd.
February 20, 2013 11:17 pm
The Obama administration raised the prospect on Wednesday of new trade measures against China and other countries as part of a new strategy to take on corporate espionage.
The White House pledged to step up efforts to combat the theft of trade secrets and said it would use a mixture of diplomatic tools and trade arrangements to put pressure on countries it believes are launching cyberattacks on American businesses.
The new White House strategy follows new revelations on Tuesday about alleged Chinese involvement in cyber espionage as well as a series of well-publicised incidents of hacking of US businesses.
The Obama administration is facing mounting political pressure to take a more aggressive line on China over cyberattacks, raising a new source of tension in an already complicated diplomatic relationship.
“We will continue to act vigorously to combat the theft of US trade,” the new strategy document says. “Trade secret theft threatens American businesses, undermines national security, and places the security of the US economy in jeopardy.”
The launch of the new cyber strategy comes after the White House signed an executive order last week which allows the government to share more information about online threats with American companies.
Mandiant, a Washington-based cyber security consultancy, said on Tuesday that a well-known group of hackers in China was in fact a People’s Liberation Army group known as Unit 61398 – the most specific allegations yet linking the Chinese military to hacking.
The Chinese defence ministry denied the allegations on Wednesday, saying that there was no “technical proof” to connect the military unit to the IP addresses which were responsible for the cyber espionage.
In recent months, the New York Times, Washington Post and Wall Street Journal have all disclosed that their operations have been attacked by Chinese hackers.
Pressure is building in parts of Congress for the Obama administration to push back harder against China. “Confronting China directly with bilateral talks on the cost of cyber-espionage would be another way of dealing with this,” Mike Rogers, chairman of the House intelligence committee, said on Wednesday. “As I said, getting more aggressive about naming names and starting to deny visas and other things.” Mr Rogers last week reintroduced a bill that would encourage companies to share information with the government about the cyberthreats that they faced.
“There is a feeling among the public that the time has come,” said Michael DuBose, managing director of Kroll Advisory Solutions and a former head of the Department of Justice’s computer crime department. “There will be growing pressure on the US government to take affirmative action.”
The White House said that the US would seek to use negotiations on new trade agreements, such as the trans-Pacific Partnership, to introduce tougher rules on protecting trade secrets.
The new strategy calls for a stronger diplomatic response to the theft of trade secrets and says that the US will work closely with allies to find new ways to pressure countries involved in cyber espionage. White House officials said that administration would review current laws to see if new measures were needed to improve enforcement.
In his State of the Union address last week, Mr Obama pledged: “We cannot look back years from now and wonder why we did nothing in the face of real threats to our security and our economy.”
Copyright The Financial Times Limited 2015. You may share using our article tools.
Please don't cut articles from FT.com and redistribute by email or post to the web.
Sign up for email briefings to stay up to date on topics you are interested in