Nation States' Espionage and Counterespionage

Nation States' Espionage and Counterespionage
Nation States' Espionage and Counterespionage

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By Christopher Burgess
April 21, 2008

Newspapers around the world regularly cover the leveling of the global 
playing field, often called "the global marketplace," and highlight the 
entrance of vibrant, new cultures and economies into the entrepreneurial 
mix. In effect, more and more of our fellow citizens around the world 
are developing increasing amounts of new and exciting intellectual 
property and applying this intellect in ways never before imagined.

Thanks to readily available infrastructure, individuals, companies and 
the countries and economies to which they contribute are able and 
universally welcomed to step up and participate. In a level playing 
field, these entrepreneurs compete with the ideas and capabilities of 
others, not locally, but globally. That's the good news.

Unfortunately, not a month passed in 2007 without a reference to 
intellectual property theft or a revelation that IP theft was being 
sponsored by a nation-state. More frequently, we hear of yet another 
government condoning, encouraging and creating a mandate for its 
national intelligence and security resources to steal intellectual 
property for competitive and national advantage.

At the same time, numerous governments have struck alarm bells, warning 
their citizens to protect themselves=E2=80=94"The thieves are coming!" they say. 
These warnings of nation-state-sponsored activities in the realm of 
industrial espionage have truly reached critical levels within the 
developed world, and the warnings are applicable to all nations, 
industrial sectors and companies, not just those that have stepped 
forward and accepted the political risk of calling out the unsavory 
activities taking place in the marketplace.

These pronouncements are quickly followed by yet another government 
setting up a new or improved counterintelligence or counterespionage 
entity to protect their country's interests in the public and private 
sectors from these self-pronounced and empowered nations whose 
intelligence apparatus are targeting the intellectual properties of the 
world's corporations.

The playing field is crowded with actors both new and old. Amazingly, 
the combined level of activity exceeds any level previously encountered, 
including the apex of the Cold War, when geopolitical and ideological 
battle lines truly existed. It is the enhancement of the global 
communications infrastructure that has in essence leveled this playing 
field of industrial espionage, for all the nation states.

Now, more than eight years since the climax of the Cold War, the threat 
of industrial and economic espionage has percolated once again to the 
forefront, and the tools of the intelligence collector are again being 
dusted off and put to use, as nations make use of what is referred to as 
the "second oldest profession." They are willing to make the political 
decision to support their indigenous corporations and companies with the 
provision of competitors' intellectual property the old-fashioned 
way=E2=80=94they will just take it.


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