Is the US-China Cyber Espionage Agreement Making a Difference?

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    Short answer: No.

    While the U.S. and China now have an official agreement that both nations will refrain from cyber espionage intended to steal intellectual property or trade secrets, experts are saying it’s all hot air.

    Citing findings from the time period immediately following the announcement of the new agreement, security services provider CrowdStrike published a blog post accusing actors believed to be affiliated with the Chinese government of continuing their steady stream of attacks:

    Over the last three weeks, CrowdStrike Falcon platform has detected and prevented a number of intrusions into our customers’ systems from actors we have affiliated with the Chinese government. Seven of the companies are firms in the Technology or Pharmaceuticals sectors, where the primary benefit of the intrusions seems clearly aligned to facilitate theft of intellectual property and trade secrets, rather than to conduct traditional national-security related intelligence collection which the Cyber agreement does not prohibit.

    The very first intrusion conducted by China-affiliated actors after the joint Xi-Obama announcement at the White House took place the very next day – Saturday September 26th. We detected and stopped the actors, so no exfiltration of customer data actually took place, but the very fact that these attempts occurred highlights the need to remain vigilant despite the newly minted Cyber agreement.

    With many other U.S. security firms echoing these claims, one thing is clear – the rampant attempts at corporate espionage via digital avenues are not stopping anytime soon.

    It is more important than ever to take the proper steps to prepare your organization to prevent, and where you cannot prevent to mitigate, the damage that can result from a hack. Investment in security, as well as preparing important aspects of crisis response such as stakeholder communications and internal protocol in advance of facing issues, is the very best way to protect your organization from the threats cyber attacks present.

    You can prevent many, but you can’t stop them all. Be ready.

    For more resources, see the Free Management Library topic: Crisis Management

    [Jonathan Bernstein is president of Bernstein Crisis Management, Inc., an international crisis management consultancy, author of Manager’s Guide to Crisis Management and Keeping the Wolves at Bay – Media Training. Erik Bernstein is vice president for the firm, and also editor of its newsletter, Crisis Manager]

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