Steve Bennett, chief executive of Symantec, is warning businesses that intellectual property theft is the greatest threat from hackers. While businesses focus on cyber risks such as malicious attacks and consumer data breaches, hackers are often interested in stealing intellectual property.
Bennett, advisor to President Barack Obama on cyber security, said, "What I'm most concerned about for the world is the economic threat if intellectual property is transferred from IP creators to countries with lower costs," according to The Financial Times. "It will have a big negative impact on global economic growth."
The number of companies that were the victims of cyber attacks meant to steal commercial secrets doubled in fiscal year 2013 compared to fiscal year 2012, according to investigations company Kroll. Indeed, information theft is the second most common type of fraud, just after physical theft of assets.
Bennett recommends companies take this threat as seriously as possible. "While we're making best efforts that aren't producing results, the bad guys are getting more sophisticated and the consequences of breaches are going up," he said.
Though they can be damaging to many companies in financial terms, cyber attacks historically don't have much of an impact on share prices, according to Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer. This removes any disincentives companies confront when deciding whether to speak out about their experiences as victims of cyber crimes dealing with intellectual property.