Pillaging the Digital Treasure Troves: The Technology, Economics, and Law of Cyber Espionage

Vol. 10 No. 2


David Z. Bodenheimer, a partner in Crowell & Moring LLP’s Government Contracts Group, heads the Homeland Security Practice and currently serves as the ABA’s Section of Science & Technology Law Division Co-Chair (Security, Privacy, and Information Law), SciTech Committee Co-Chair (Homeland Security), and Public Contract Law Section (PCL) Committee Co-Chair (Cybersecurity, Privacy, and Data Protection). Gordon Griffin, an associate in Crowell & Moring LLP’s Government Contracts Group, works and speaks on a range of technology, cybersecurity, and privacy issues.

Cloaked in the disguise of a corporate insider, the spy penetrates the outer perimeter, slips past the lurking guardians, cracks the interior vault, loots the corporate secrets—and then turns off the computer and gets another coffee after the high-technology heist. In today’s age of rampant cyber espionage, bet-the-company secrets and billion-dollar technology may be stolen in seconds or exfiltrated for months before detection. And this threat is here and now—and huge:

President Obama:

[In 2008] alone cyber criminals stole intellectual property from businesses worldwide worth up to $1 trillion.1

NSA Director General Keith Alexander:

The ongoing cyber-thefts from the networks of public and private organizations, including Fortune 500 companies, represent the greatest transfer of wealth in human history.2

Representative Rogers:

They are stealing everything that isn’t bolted down, and it’s getting exponentially worse.3

For this exponentially expanding topic, we will tackle four core questions about cyber espionage:

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