It is my pleasure to welcome you to the 5th annual Massachusetts Counter-Proliferation Working Group Conference. Thank you for taking the time to be here with us today.
In December 2007, almost six years ago, a multi-agency initiative was launched in this district to combat the growing national security threat posed by illegal exports of restricted U.S. military and dual-use technology to foreign nationals and terrorist organizations. Since 2007, our Counter-Proliferation Working Group, consisting of representatives of law enforcement and intelligence agencies, have been working together to coordinate investigations and share information regarding current threats and suspicious activities regarding the transfer of sensitive U.S. technology and information through illegal means.
The proliferation of weapons of mass destruction is one of the greatest threats our country faces today. The WMD threat is not isolated to a single country. For instance, while Iran is aggressively seeking U.S. origin goods to further its nuclear capabilities, terrorist groups are actively seeking to develop chemical weapons and obtain components for improvised explosive devices. Preventing our adversaries from obtaining U.S. export restricted technology is therefore one of our highest priorities. It is clear, however, that the government cannot guard our nation from this immense threat alone; we need the help of our business and academic partners to safeguard sensitive U.S. technology.
In addition, America faces a growing number of espionage threats, ranging from the activities of foreign intelligence services and terrorist groups, to emerging cyber-threats, to increasingly sophisticated operations to obtain trade secrets and technical data concerning U.S. military and dual-use technologies. Foreign states and terrorist organizations routinely seek arms, technology, and other materials from the United States to advance their technology capacity, weapons systems, and in some cases, weapons of mass destruction programs.
Foreign governments are aggressive in their efforts to illegally acquire U.S. technology and technical data. With each passing year, our adversaries become more creative and advanced in their methods to steal our technology. For instance, they have been observed directly targeting U.S. firms; employing commercial firms in the U.S. and third countries to acquire U.S. technology; and recruiting students, professors, and scientists to engage in technology collection.
Three months ago, President Obama called the cyber threat Aone of the most serious economic and national security challenges we face as a nation.@ Private companies are invaluable to handling these threats and often act as our first line of defense. Cyber intrusions are occurring more and more frequently. While prevention is the ultimate goal, we must also focus on disruption. This requires your help and assistance.
The speakers today will be addressing a number of extremely important topics, including the importance of protecting US technology and technical data, how to comply with U.S. export laws, how to protect your technology, and the ongoing threat posed by cyberattacks.
We ask for your help and partnership in protecting our nation’s national and economic security. Please report any suspicious contacts, inquiries and cyber intrusions. Even one suspicious email or call might expose an illegal procurement network or scheme to acquire critical U.S. technology. We ask for your help in keeping our country and our military troops safe.
Once again, I thank you for your participation and continued cooperation. I hope you all find today’s conference both beneficial and interesting.