World security leaders gather in Palo Alto to talk international technology threats

Lauren Martinez Image
Wednesday, October 18, 2023
World security leaders gather in Palo Alto to talk tech threats
World security leaders from the Five Eyes group gathered in Palo Alto Tuesday to talk about international technology threats from China.

PALO ALTO, Calif. (KGO) -- On Tuesday the FBI hosted an unprecedented tech summit in the heart of Silicon Valley.

Security leaders from Five Eyes, a group formed after World War II in an effort to share intelligence, focused on technology threats.

Christopher Wray, FBI Director, said this is the first time they are standing together in a public setting.

"The Chinese communist party is the number one threat to innovation -- period. China has made economic espionage, stealing others work and ideas, a central component to its national strategy. And that espionage is at the expense of innovators in all five of our countries, and it's certainly true right here in Silicon Valley," Wray said.

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Intelligence leaders of the Five Eyes represent the U.S., the U.K, Australia, Canada and New Zealand.

The summit is a joint effort to denounce China's hacking program -- now bigger than that of any other major nation combined.

Mike Burgess, Australian Security Intelligence Organization director, said this summer revealed behavior that goes beyond traditional espionage.

"The Chinese Government is involved in the most sustained, scaled and sophisticated theft of intellectual property and expertise in human history," Burgess said.

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The ASIO director said stealing intellectual property is the first step.

"And and then they use talent programs, joint ventures and acquisitions to harvest the expertise to exploit the intellectual property. Sometimes that technology is put to military use," Burgess said.

The heads of security are outlining the current threat environment reaches of different sectors.

MI5 Director General Ken McCallum said we are at a historic moment of emerging technologies.

"Authoritarian states are laser focused on this. We know that because they've said so publically, and we know it because our teams every week observe massive amounts of covert activity, by the Chinese communist party in particular. Not aimed in just our government or military secrets but aimed at startups, aimed at academic research, aimed at people who, in short, may understandably not think national security is about them," McCallum said.

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The threat landscape is particularly high in the Bay Area.

Cybersecurity expert and SJSU Professor Ahmed Banafa there is no place in the United States with so much concentration of AI companies as much as the Bay Area.

"You look at San Francisco. They have a specific area of almost 20 top companies of AI. And they're going to be a target for espionage. They're going to be a target for stealing the secret. They're going to be a target for so many things," Banafa said.

Banafa said having this summit in Silicon Valley sends a message that intelligence leaders are aware of the threats.

"This move is an acknowledgement that new technology, especially AI, is going to change the world. Number two is, they're giving a message to anybody who's trying to conduct this kind of stealing technology, having their own spies inside the company," Banafa said.

Banafa said protecting intellectual property is national security.

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