Cyber Criminals Target Intellectual Property

Sue Marquette Poremba

As I read articles and talk to security experts about what cyber criminals are targeting and how they steal information, I often come away a little depressed by the criminals' sophistication while wondering what's next? After all, they are already stealing financial data, personal data and health data.


According to McAfee, the next targets are corporate trade secrets and intellectual property.


McAfee and Science Applications International Corporation (SAIC) announced findings from their study, "Underground Economies: Intellectual Capital and Sensitive Corporate Data Now the Latest Cybercrime Currency," which shows a shift in the information being stolen by cyber criminals. According to McAfee:

Cybercriminals understand there is greater value in selling a corporations' proprietary information and trade secrets which have little to no protection making intellectual capital their new currency of choice.

The crooks are stealing trade secrets, marketing plans, R&D data and source codes and selling the information underground. A quarter of the 1,000 international IT professionals who were interviewed said they have halted new products or mergers because of a breach or the threat of one.


Apparently, much of this information is unprotected, or at least less protected than other types of data. In the not-so-distant past, the biggest threat to trade secrets was either an absent-minded employee who lost a hard drive or the disgruntled ex-employee who wanted revenge. I guess we shouldn't be too surprised that cyber criminals have gotten into the act.


And now, again, I have to sit back and wonder ... what's next?

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