US cites India, China as business threats

US cites India, China as business threats

Washington: US businesses faced varied threats in 2007—including cyber attacks in Europe, theft of intellectual property in Asia, natural disasters in Latin America, terrorism on many continents—according to a year-end analysis by the US state department’s overseas security advisory council (OSAC).

In Europe, two weeks of attacks by computer interlopers that crippled government and corporate websites beginning in late April raised a new worry that US companies also could be vulnerable to attack by computer.

“It is vital to recognize that these attacks can easily be replicated against a new target, including the US private sector," warned the council, which was established in 1985 to promote security cooperation between the state department and American businesses. The report was released on Thursday. Among 10 security issues cited in the report, the council also warned of rising homegrown political radicalism and terrorism in Europe.

Intellectual property theft, terrorism, natural disasters and political instability were listed as the most serious security challenges in Asia.

The threat from fraud and theft of trade secrets has been rising exponentially, the report said. It cited China and India as countries of greatest concern and warned that much of the damage comes from within companies.

“OSAC advises that US companies and other entities should take strong precautions against the insider threat, to safeguard communications systems, and for the safekeeping of sensitive data," the report said.

Earthquakes and storms plagued US business in Latin America in 2007, but the report also cited antagonism from governments, including those of Venezuela and Bolivia.

“Political conflict has emerged as a concern to the US private sector in a few Latin American countries whose leaders have nationalized private industry and campaigned against US interests through proposed constitutional referenda," the report said.