The FBI‘s number of investigations into possible economic espionage on U.S. businesses has increased by 53 percent within the past year, a top bureau official told the Potomac Officers Club Wednesday.
Randall Coleman — executive assistant director of the criminal, cyber, response and services branch — described that environment as one under what the FBI refers to as the “hybrid threat” category from some foreign-owned businesses with footprints in the U.S.
Those businesses are used by foreign intelligence agencies to steal trade secrets and other proprietary information from their U.S. business partners, Coleman said.
“They look into things like supply chains through legitimate business deals, ” he told the POC’s 2016 Intel Summit.
“China is focusing a lot of its attention on research-and-development, the most expensive part of innovation, ” Coleman said.
Coleman attributed the growth in economic espionage cases can be attributed to the bureau’s increasing number of partnerships with other agencies and businesses, people willing to come forward and heightened aggression by states like China as well as Iran and Russia.
“Companies with a lot of intellectual property and trade secrets must be creative in that, ” he said.