Russia's JV-level hacking is nothing compared to China's
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The peaceful transfer of power that will take place in our country during the 58th inauguration is a time when many will reflect on the future of America and look to the next four years as a new chapter in our history.

But in this unconventional political year, there has been no break in the action from election day to inauguration day for the outgoing administration and the president-elect and his team.

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A changing world has put leaders on alert. Press briefings and news reports are filled with questions and innuendoes about Russian hacking and cyber-security breaches. 

 

For all the attention it has attracted, Russian hacking is only the tip of the iceberg.  A clear majority of hacks and attempted hacks into corporate and other private-sector entities have come from China.

China has especially targeted our country's manufacturing sector – thus jeopardizing one of the president-elect's promises to "Make America Great Again" By restoring our manufacturing base.

China is believed to have broken both U.S., and international law by hacking into U.S. companies and stealing intellectual property, the proprietary information and, trade secrets that are the basis of American manufacturing excellence.  Then they produce and sell goods based on the stolen information. 

My home state, Pennsylvania, is home to one of the greatest of all American products, steel. Steel that built bridges and iconic buildings in cities across the country, laying the groundwork for an industry and becoming a distinct chapter in American history.

And in my home county in Pennsylvania, Chester County, we have seen the competitive advantages of our state-of-the art high quality specialty steel industry devastated by the predatory practices of the Chinese.

Although Pittsburgh may be better known as a steelmaking center, our county is where the steel for top-secret U.S. Navy ships, and the iconic steel beam “trees” that graced the lower floors of the World Trade Center, came from. 

Millions of dollars and years of experimentation are needed to find the right mix of alloys to make steel both stronger and lighter, and small specialty steel makers all the way up to US Steel have seen that work and the money behind it pirated electronically. 

U.S. Steel in particular invested millions of dollars in the development of new cutting-edge steels, only to have these trade secrets stolen by China. This is a national security matter. 

I’m not talking about intellectual property theft like the Chinese counterfeiting of watches and sneakers.  I’m talking about compromising the very backbone of our defensive capabilities.  It is a strategic concern for our nation’s survival.

In a case with the U.S. International Trade Commission, U.S. Steel alleges that trade secrets of their advanced steel were stolen by industrial espionage.

This case, which happens to be the very first economic cyber case ever filed in the United States against another nation, could set precedent for other companies facing similar threats if successful. Dubbed by the Justice Department as “The Great Brain Robbery,” corporate hacking from the second largest economy in the world presents a great threat to the private companies that strengthen our country.

According to the Justice Department official, John Carlin:

“They want to develop certain segments of industry and instead of trying to out-innovate, out-research, out-develop, they're choosing to do it through theft.” 

These allegations are repeatedly denied by the Chinese government, complicating the issue even further.

From coast to coast, American ideas and innovation are reinvigorating our economy, producing new businesses and more jobs. If one company like U.S. Steel can be hacked by China, its trade secrets stolen and ripped off, then the entire industrial sector is at risk.

Though rarely visible in the day to day news cycle, companies regularly experience hacks and security breaches from sources after our ideas and intellectual property. Carlin estimates the numbers are in the thousands.

The private sector understands these threats; it is up to the government to provide further protections against them.

The real solution to this problem lies in a convergence of factors.

First, the public and private sector must work together to ensure that technological advantages stay here in America.

Second, the President-elect should follow through on his words to “aggressively combat cyberattacks” and implement new infrastructure to keep them out.

Third, strengthen counterintelligence resources to keep up with the changing landscape of technology.

And lastly, international courts must severely punish cyber-attackers who wage such destructive attacks.

These steps are critical if we are intent on protecting America’s economy. If carried out with thoughtful implementation by the President-elect, just may be the key in writing the next chapter of history.

Colin Hanna is President of Let Freedom Ring USA, Inc., a non-profit public policy organization committed to promoting Constitutional government, free enterprise and traditional values. Let Freedom Ring’s primary current project is Sunset the Tax Code. Hanna was a Chester County Commissioner (1995-2003) and has appeared on MCNBC’s Hardball with Chris Matthews; Fox News Channel’s Hannity, The Glenn Beck Show, Special Report, and Fox & Friends.


The views of contributors are their own and are not the views of The Hill.