PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — Security officials were in Pittsburgh Wednesday, meeting with local business leaders to discuss international cyber security issues.
Last May, Attorney General Eric Holder charged five Chinese military men who engaged in cyber espionage against six U.S. companies, including Alcoa, ATI Allegheny Technologies, Westinghouse, and U.S. Steel Corporation.
“The range of trade secrets and other sensitive business information stolen in this case is significant,” Holder said last May 18.
On Wednesday, John Carlin, the Assistant Attorney General for National Security, was in town at the Software Engineering Institute to brief local companies on the cyber security threat.
His message was sober.
“We are at September 10 levels in terms of cyber preparedness,” Carlin said.
Carlin cited a recent tenth anniversary report from the 9/11 Commission.
“American companies’ most sensitive patented technologies and intellectual property, that U.S. universities’ research and development, and the nation’s defense capabilities and critical infrastructure are all under cyber-attack. I could not agree more.”
Of course, bringing foreign spies to justice in Pittsburgh is not easy.
KDKA money editor Jon Delano asked Carlin about the Chinese spies.
Delano: “When the Chinese actors are in China, is there a next step for the U.S. government? Or do you just file a criminal complaint and walk away?”
Carlin: “Certainly not the latter. We’re going to continue to take the steps that we need to take to deter and disrupt this kind of activity.”
Beyond more charges, Carlin would not get specific, so Delano asked him what companies need to do to protect themselves.
“It’s a problem that needs to have the attention of their boards, their CEO, their general counsels and their C-suite,” Carlin said.
“They need to come up with a strategy that treats it as a serious area of risk and give it the internal resources it needs to have an active defense. And they also need and should come in and share the problems that they’re having with federal law enforcement and others so that together we can tackle this problem.”