Never Underestimate an Insider Threat

The Situation

Adding fuel to the fire ignited by the recent and well-publicized overt espionage activities being perpetrated by the Chinese government on US interests, a lower-profile, albeit not rare, incident has made its way into the news.  Specifically, last July a Chinese intelligence operative was charged with conducting espionage activities at a GE Aviation facility in Cincinnati Ohio. GE Aviation or soon to be renamed GE Aerospace (a division of General Electric Corp.), is a world-leading provider of jet and turboprop engines, as well as integrated systems for commercial, military, business and general aviation. According to the indictment, the operative as well as other intelligence officers had been attempting to obtain trade secrets from GE Aviation for some time. A Chinese national who was working as a GE Aviation employee was recruited as a “source” by the operative and set-up to spy for the Chinese government. With such access, the “insider” was able to obtain information and did so until discovered by the Federal Bureau of Investigation. Ultimately the operative was arrested and an end was put to this particular incident. But how much gain was realized by the Chinese before it was?

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A U.S. Attorney associated with the case stated “U.S. aerospace companies invest decades of time and billions of dollars in research. This is the American way. In contrast, according to the indictment, a Chinese intelligence officer tried to acquire that same, hard-earned innovation through theft.”

Unfortunately, this unscrupulous “R&D process” being carried-out by the Chinese is pervasive and has infected many U.S. industries with no end in-sight. The insider threat is real and it is widespread. Organizations with vital trade secrets to protect must become more diligent and begin thinking beyond the usual methods of protecting sensitive information such as simply controlling access to computer systems. Insiders sponsored by nation states such as China most likely have at their disposal more covert and technically sophisticated methods to obtain information. For instance, a tap placed on a critical network backbone cable could go unnoticed and deliver volumes of information to the inside actors in perpetuity. While it sounds far-fetched, this is a real vulnerability present in most enterprises.

The Solution

The U.S. Military and Intelligence Community has recognized the vulnerability of physical breaches into network infrastructure and for decades has had guidelines in-place to protect critical classified networks from the threat. Network Integrity Systems was founded to develop and deliver modern solutions which address physical cyber security threats such as wire-tapping and for nearly two decades now our INTERCEPTOR product line has been deployed by all branches of the military, most intel agencies and at many defense-industrial-sector manufacturing facilities.  Our VANGUARD products were developed to provide the same level of protection for private enterprises and are being used widely by cloud computing service providers to insure privacy within the co-location centers in-which they process information.  Learn more.


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