DOD Report Says Spying Focused on Naval Technology

The U.S. Department of Defense in a new report covering espionage for 2009 said that attempts by foreign spies to obtain classified or restricted U.S. technology increased and that foreign governments are focusing their spying efforts on naval and marine technology that could provide the foundation for a next generation “blue water” navy.

The revelation comes in the 2010 edition ofTargeting U.S. Technologies: A Trend Analysis of Reporting from Defense Industry,” (PDF) an annual publication by the Defense Security Services (DSS), part of the U.S. Department of Defense. The report concludes that Internet based spying and targeted attacks from what the report refers to as “entities” from “East Asia and the Pacific region” continued to be a major problem for the U.S. military and military contractors.

However, foreign entities interested in acquiring classified or restricted technology didn’t limit themselves to remote, Internet based attacks. For the fourth year in a row, DSS reported an increase in inquiries about business partnerships and R&D agreements. While some of those may be due to increased commercial links between the U.S. and nations seeking classified technology, the DSS concluded that many of those inquiries were linked to efforts to obtain sensitive technology. In fact, commercial spying far outweighed more traditional types of government-to-government espionage when it came to the acquisition of sensitive technology, the DSS report concludes. Front companies, foreign visits and public venues where technology was on display all provided opportunities for nations to circumvent U.S. export control and collect information and technology inconspicuously, the report says.

“This represents, in part, an apparent shift on the part of foreign governments to mask officially-sponsored collection efforts as seemingly less alerting inquiries,” the report says.

Many of the conclusions for the latest report, which summarizes reports of suspicious activity collected during the 2009 fiscal year, echoes that of previous reports. Information systems technology was of particular interest, especially technology related to modeling and simulation software that can be used in military modernization programs.


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