American think tanks are frequent targets of cyberattacks from overseas, USA Today reports.
China is the prime suspect, although other countries are involved, too, in stealing valuable data from organizations that do important work for the U.S. government.
Scholars at think tanks do research, advise on strategy and help devise policy for U.S. leaders in the White House, Pentagon, Congress, State Department and federal agencies.
Complaints about cyberattacks on think tanks, consulting groups and law firms are increasing by 20 percent annually, according to former FBI official Shawn Henry, who headed cybersecurity at the agency.
These organizations aggregate very valuable data, and thats exactly the kind of information that foreign intelligence services are looking for, he said.
During the transition to the Obama administration in 2008 and 2009, people who were moving from think tanks to the administration had their email accounts hacked.
Mr. Henry said that vulnerabilties across the network are significant. Most major organizations have been infiltrated.
He said that dozens of countries are involved, and the government has worked hard to combat the threat. But it is too large to eliminate at this point.
The U.S. governments work is cut out to protect valuable data.