RSA 2020 Cyber Tips - Combating Economic Espionage

Economic espionage is the theft of trade secrets or intellectual property for the benefit of a foreign government or foreign agent. The FBI is devoting many resources to combat this threat.

Video Transcript

FBI Cyber Agent: Economic espionage is the theft of trade secrets or intellectual property for the benefit of a foreign government or foreign agent. Some autocratic governments intentionally target advanced technologies in the U.S. to give themselves a competitive advantage in the world marketplace. And while the U.S. welcomes competition, we also expect countries not to cheat and to respect the rule of law. 

Economic espionage violates that rule of law. The cost of stealing U.S. intellectual property is enormous and has an impact on everyday people. It has an impact on American businesses, American jobs, and American consumers. Intellectual property theft results in estimated losses between five hundred and fifty billion dollars to one trillion dollars per year. Seventy percent of intellectual property theft prosecutions are right here in Northern California. Economic espionage is a threat to our economic security and our national security. 

The FBI is devoting many resources to this threat and we need to make sure that we're partnering more closely with American business and American universities. While it's important for academia to have an open and collaborative environment, some foreign adversaries are increasingly taking advantage of this system to secretly misdirect funding and research for their own gains. Therefore, we're encouraging universities to take steps to protect their students from intimidation or control by foreign governments and to give them ways to report such incidents. We encourage universities to ensure their faculty and staff are fully disclosing all of their foreign funding sources, and other relevant foreign affiliations, in accordance with federal funding requirements. 

Confronting this threat effectively does not mean that we shouldn't welcome international students or work with foreign businesses. What it does mean is that when autocratic nations violate our criminal laws and international norms, we're not going to tolerate it. If you're in the Bay Area, reach out to the FBI San Francisco Office to learn more about protecting your business, school, or university from the threat of economic espionage. If you're located somewhere else, please find your local field office at

Video Download

Video Source