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Obama Officials Plan Response to Cyber-Theft of Trade Secrets

President Barack Obama’s administration is preparing a strategy to counter theft of U.S. trade secrets by hackers in China and other countries, according to a former government official briefed on an administration report to be released today.
The report will outline a coordinated diplomatic effort to push back against other nations to enforce intellectual property rights and to lay out best practices for companies to protect their material, according to the former official, who asked not to be named before the official announcement.
Attorney General Eric Holder will join Victoria A. Espinel, U.S. Intellectual Property Enforcement Coordinator at the Office of Management and Budget, and officials from General Electric Co. and American Superconductor Corp., to release the document titled, “Strategy to Mitigate the Theft of U.S. Trade Secrets,” according to a statement on the OMB website.
The response comes a day after an Alexandria, Virginia- based security company, Mandiant Corp., released an analysis that said the Chinese army is probably the source of computer- hacking attacks against at least 141 companies worldwide since 2006.
The intrusions, mainly directed at U.S. companies, were carried out by a group that is “likely government sponsored” and is similar “in its mission, capabilities, and resources” to a unit of the People’s Liberation Army, according to the Mandiant report.
A spokesman for China’s Foreign Ministry, Hong Lei, denied any military involvement and said his department is opposed to computer hacking and has been a victim of attacks itself.

Executive Orders

Obama issued an executive order Feb. 12 that calls for sharing of secret government information on the operations of Chinese hackers and other cyber threats. It directs the government to develop voluntary cybersecurity standards for companies operating the nation’s vital infrastructure, such as power grids and air traffic control systems.
In his State of the Union address, Obama warned that hackers, including those who are state sponsored, are a national security threat as well as an economic one.
“We know foreign countries and companies swipe our corporate secrets,” Obama said. “Now our enemies are also seeking the ability to sabotage our power grid, our financial institutions, and our air traffic control systems.”
The news conference is scheduled for 3:15 p.m. Washington time and will be broadcast on the White House website.

Protecting Innovation

“The administration is focused on protecting the innovation that drives the American economy and supports jobs in the United States,” Espinel wrote on OMB’s blog.
Officials representing government and corporations will also participate in the news conference, including Rebecca Blank, the deputy secretary of Commerce; Robert Hormats, undersecretary of State for economic growth; Demetrios Marantis, deputy U.S. trade representative; and Frank Montoya, national counterintelligence executive with the Office of the Director of National Intelligence.
Also scheduled to attend are Karan Bhatia, vice president and senior counsel of global government affairs and policy at General Electric Co.; Dean Garfield, chief executive of the Information Technology Industry Council; and John Powell, general counsel of American Superconductor Corp., a Devens, Massachusetts-based producer of wind-turbine components.


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