The Intelligence Community (IC) has ignored blatant attacks on American business for at least the past 20 years. In 1995 the Intelligence Policy Board included "Industry" as a legitimate consumer of intelligence. The IC's response was to state that Industry is not their "Customer". What is behind the IC's refusal to support the very economic base that they depend on for funding?

Lynn Mattice, President and Founder of the National Economic Security Grid, a Washington D.C. based think tank focused at defending and strengthening the economic security of the country, presented the webinar on this very important topic. Mattice previously served on the advisory board of the National Counterintelligence Center (NCIC, which was later renamed the Office of National Counterintelligence Executive, ONCIX). Additionally, he is a Senior Fellow at George Washington University's Homeland Security Policy Institute; a Distinguished Fellow at the Ponemon Institute and Chairman Emeritus of the National Intellectual Property Law Institute..

America’s economic security is in peril, said Mattice, and it needs to be fixed. Why? Today, in our environment we see new technologies go from discovery to use to obsolesce within 1 year. So we have to worry about what happens with innovations, the protection of it to create an economic advantage. The small business in America are a supply chain of innovation,  there are only a few large companies who tend to get all of the attention The people who make the difference are small business.

Looking at aerospace products & parts, for example, Mattice said that 92% are patented by companies with less than 500 employees, not the major aerospace companies. In our supply chain of innovation, the farther you go out into the abyss, the risk exposure increases exponentially. And they have a lot to deal with, like fraud, insider threats, just like a large business.  Business leaders need to balance the risk, but often they don’t have access to support that they need.

The government has built a number of private sector outreach programs but realistically, Mattice said, it has limited capabilities, so they primary focus on the big companies because they are easy to find, they are easy to connect with, and they find that it’s a simple aspect to get the information out to the greatest extent.

So who is looking out for the forgotten Fortune 5 million small and medium sized companies, Mattice asked? Several positive things have happened, Mattice said. In 1995 the National Counterintelligence Center revealed a clear and obvious need to get information to the private sector so that they can put in place mitigation solutions to counter the types of threats that they face. In 1995, an act required that the government provide a report to Congress that revealed threats to industry and how to deal with the threats. As part of the process, the report showed 10 countries that were working to take technologies away from the United States.  But these initiatives have lacked focus and the ability to effect change.

Who is stealing our technology? In 2011, an ONCIX report revealed extensive activity by foreign spies stealing technology from American companies. The government for the first time named countries that are involved in the economic espionage: China and Russia. But it’s not only those two countries, Mattice said, adding that there are over 140 countries that are all working to steal technology from the United States.

The loss from the theft is staggering: reports from both government and private sector place economic loss from economic espionage at more than $1.5 trillion annually, Mattice said.

The bottom line, Mattice said, is that “We need to convince the intelligence community that American businesses are under threat and the government needs to share with us the threats that we are facing and help us develop the mitigation solutions we need to counter those threats. Where could our economy be today if these threats were stopped, simply by telling American business what they are up against and how to counter them? As Americans, we should be strongly advocating and forcing our government to stop protecting the specific intelligence methods used by foreign governments, foreign companies, organized crime, hacktivists, activists, extremists and rogue individuals. The government needs to be more transparent, and help us to stop other countries from stealing our technology.”