FBI Warns Of Foreign Spying On U.S. Tech Companies

United Technologies settled a lawsuit with the U.S. government yesterday, acknowledging making false statements about its illegal export to China of U.S. software. That technology was used in China’s advanced military attack helicopter, the Z-10. “We accept responsibility for these past violations and we deeply regret they occurred,” United Technologies CEO Louis Chenevert said in a statement.

While United Technologies may be committed to avoiding such violations in the future, the FBI says foreign efforts to illegally acquire embargoed U.S. technology isn’t new but is quickly becoming one of the biggest national security problems facing the U.S. C. Frank Figliuzzi, head of the FBI’s counterintelligence division, testified before the intelligence subcommittee of the House homeland security committee on Thursday:

What we’re seeing is that foreign nations and their intelligence services are understanding more than ever before that it’s cheaper to steal our technology than to use their budget resources in this time of economic crisis to develop it themselves.

“The theft of U.S. proprietary technology, including controlled dual-use technology and military-grade equipment, from unwitting U.S. companies is one of the most dangerous threats to national security,” said John P. Woods, assistant director of national security investigations at U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement.

Responding to the United Technologies settlement, Andrew Shapiro, assistant secretary of state for political affairs, commented, “[the settlement] sends a clear message: willful violators U.S. arms exports control laws will be pursued and punished.”

The Z-10 is now in production and in use by the People’s Liberation Army of China.