Christopher Stangl

If your business has any secrets worth getting, odds are that hackers somewhere are trying to get at them. As FBI agent Christopher Stangl says: “To protect our way of life, we must identify what assets our adversaries want to acquire and then we must protect those assets.”

Today’s spies aren’t the intelligence agents of old, however. According to Stangl, America’s enemies are much more likely to employ hackers, researchers, and front companies to acquire corporate trade secrets, research data, personal identifying information, and biometric data. China is more likely to engage in these activities than any other country.

“Actors working to benefit China are the most active and persistent perpetrators of economic espionage, which is increasingly achieved through cyber means. Our national security rests on our economic security and prevention of harm is essential. Once a foreign country has acquired U.S. information or assets, the damage cannot be undone simply by punishing those who were responsible,” Stangl says.

Chinese cyber-espionage is said to cost U.S. companies $300 billion every year.

A recent Department of Justice report blamed China for 90 percent of economic espionage cases involving a state.

In April authorities charged a Chinese businessman with spying and attempting to steal advanced turbine designs from General Electric.

In one example from 2018 a Chinese company, Sinovel Wind Group Company, was convicted of stealing turbine technology from an American company, causing the victim company to lose $1 billion in shareholder value and 700 jobs, which was more than half its global work force.

Tacit support from China’s government for such activities, along with its lack of intellectual property laws or willingness to cooperate with foreign investigations contributes to these activities, the DOJ says.

Stangl will discuss economic espionage at the Princeton Mercer Regional Chamber of Commerce on Thursday, July 11, from 11:30 to 1:30 p.m. at the Princeton Marriott. Tickets are $75, $50 for members. For more information, visit www.princetonmercerchamber.org.

Stangl earned a bachelor’s degree in biological sciences from Peru State College in Nebraska and holds an MBA from Monmouth University and a master’s in information technology from Carnegie Mellon. He joined the FBI in 2003 and is currently the assistant special agent in charge at the FBI’s Newark field office, where he specializes in national security.

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