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President Obama recently signed an executive order that will finally lay some real groundwork for the punishment of cybercrime of all sorts. Naturally, the focus is primarily on cybercrime that endangers critical U.S. infrastructure and the theft of intellectual property, or knowing use of stolen IP.

The order grants the Treasury Department a green light to pursue cybercriminals, no matter how small of a group or large of a nation, and to use the crushing force of American financial sanctions and asset freezes to punish the criminals. The order will make it more difficult for cybercriminals to “… profit from their misdeeds,” as Obama put it.

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The U.S. is the most victimized nation on the planet when it comes to IP theft, losing hundreds of billions each year. It is no surprise that the autocratic government in Beijing immediately protested the order, as they are the greatest perpetrators of IP theft, hacking everything from US defense systems to steel producers. All American businesses are potential targets. With the amount of American intellectual property stolen reaching epic proportions, nearly the value of America’s total trade with East Asia ironically, the time has come to get serious.

General Keith Alexander, former Director of the NSA, called it, “The greatest transfer of wealth in history.” Often it’s research paid for with American tax dollars and creations invented by American minds which are lost by the semitruck load to nations apparently incapable of competing. This order was the right thing to do, perhaps too late. - Alex Walsh, Lawton, Iowa

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