By Bob Bragdon
July 16, 2008
Occasionally it's tough to write a column.not for a lack of topics, but
because the topics all seem so old: browser vulnerabilities, more
government regulations, the latest and greatest breaches, the Celtics'
victory over the Lakers (apologies to Lakers fans, but I'm from Boston),
and so on.
Then last month I had dinner with a group of security and technology
folks in San Francisco, and Jason Hoffman from Kaiser Permanente handed
me a topic on a silver platter. Jason asked what businesses are doing if
their employees are attending the Summer Olympics in Beijing. Are
organizations securing the corporate secrets that may be on the laptops
employees carry into China?
Over the years I have heard many stories from CSOs about their
encounters with state-sponsored IP theft and industrial espionage. Those
stories, while including many countries, have usually focused on two
nations in particular: France and China. It just so happens this year
that the Summer Olympics are being held in Beijing, a nation noted for
its accelerating economy, utter lack of intellectual property
protections and talented intelligence services. This is a risky mix to
encounter when you are trying to protect corporate secrets.
Nations around the globe have long focused on stealing corporate IP in
order to give their native businesses an advantage. The former Soviet
Union was very good at this during the Cold War, and even friendly
states have been caught on occasion targeting their allies.
I don't want it to seem that I am China-bashing here, because that is
not my point. The point is: What steps are you taking to protect your
employees and the intellectual property that they may be carrying with
them when they travel abroad? Remember that the Chinese government
filters Internet access, preventing those within the borders of China
from getting to certain domains that may be deemed contrary to the
benefit of the state (think back on the whole Google issue a few years
ago). It's not too much of a leap from there to imagining someone
snooping around on your computer when you are online in your hotel room
or at an Internet cafe.
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