American companies are the victim of an "onslaught of computer network intrusions that have originated in China," according to a report by the U.S. government's National Counterintelligence Executive (NCE). The report says China is trying to "build" its economy on U.S. technology, research and development, and other sensitive forms of intellectual property.
Consider the company Kerry cited: Wind-energy experts American Superconductor. Its biggest client used to be China's Sinovel — until Sinovel allegedly bribed an American Superconductor employee to steal his employer's software and give it to Sinovel. In the case of cyber-attacks, Chinese hackers may leave malware inside the computer systems of American firms, where the nefarious programs can go undetected for years, slowly bleeding companies of information.
Many experts suspect so, though China denies the charges. U.S. officials reportedly believe that a dozen Chinese groups are responsible for the bulk of cyber-attacks on U.S. companies, and that they receive direction from the Chinese government or military.
It can be devastating. Some say China is stealing $400 billion worth of sensitive information a year. The NCE report cited the case of paint company Valspar, which lost $20 million, or one-eighth of its annual profit, after its proprietary information was stolen by a Chinese rival.
Definitely. Some hacked companies have contracts with the Defense Department and other U.S. government agencies, putting classified information at risk. For nearly a decade, hackers had access to the computer network of telecommunications company Nortel Networks. If, as suspected, China was behind the breach, it likely gained valuable insight into the internet and telephone systems that government agencies, banks, and other businesses rely on.
Surprisingly little so far. Cyber-security experts are urging the government to show China that such acts will have serious repercussions. In the meantime, the NCE says China continues to be an "aggressive and capable" hacking threat.