The US government’s National Counterintelligence and Security Center (NCSC) has identified biotechnology, including chemical manufacturing and biomanufacturing, as one of the top targets for foreign cyber thieves looking to steal US intellectual property and trade secrets. The NCSC’s report points to biomaterials, biopharmaceuticals and new vaccines and drugs as of particular interest for international economic espionage efforts. Beyond biotechnology, the NCSC concludes that energy and alternative energy is another sector that has been targeted, including biofuels as well as oil, gas and coalbed methane development.
The NCSC singles out China, Russia and Iran as ‘the most pervasive’ threats to the US in this arena. The conclusion follows efforts by the Trump administration to address worries about unfair Chinese trade practices and attempts to steal US intellectual property through hefty new tariffs on Chinese products, including chemicals. These concerns also recently led the US government to tighten restrictions on visas for graduate students from China who plan to study certain ‘sensitive’ subjects, like advanced manufacturing and robotics, at the nation’s universities.