U.S. Businesses Vulnerable to Espionage Without Cybersecurity Legislation

Another senior Obama administration official has offered an endorsement of major pending in the Senate, with Commerce Secretary John Bryson adding his name to the backers of the measure in the executive branch.

Writing in an in , Bryson offered a new twist on the debate with a warning that businesses will remain vulnerable to corporate espionage carried out by foreign parties in the absence of comprehensive legislative reform.

"Over the past five years, a highly sophisticated team of operatives have stealthily infiltrated more than 70 U.S. corporations and organizations to steal priceless company secrets. They did it without ever setting foot in any victim's office. Sitting at undisclosed computers, they could be anywhere in the world," Bryson wrote. "This is the new face of corporate espionage."

With his endorsement of the Cybersecurity Act, cosponsored by Sens. Joe Lieberman (I-Conn.), Susan Collins (R-Maine), John Rockefeller (D-W.V.) and Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), Bryson joins Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano in backing the measure.

Under the bill, the Department of Homeland Security would be vested with new powers to oversee private-sector digital systems that are deemed critical infrastructure, a new measure of regulatory authority that does not sit well with the bill's critics.

Indeed, several Republicans, led by Arizona Sen. John McCain, have spoken out against the bill and , a far more limited cybersecurity bill that would focus on facilitating the sharing of information about cyber threats among public and private entities.