Gaining access to well-protected information or systems in closed networks remains a resource-intensive effort involving traditional espionage tradecraft. Such operations do not require the simultaneous access to large numbers of systems needed for a strategic attack and thus are within reach of a much larger array of foreign adversaries.
Foreign governments for decades have engaged in state-sponsored espionage by successfully recruited agents in the U.S. government with access to computer systems and cryptographic information. Foreign agents have also established technology companies in this country and served as subcontractors on U.S. defense contracts to obtain access to technology. Some governments now have the operational and technical expertise for more aggressive and sophisticated cyber espionage. U.S. counterintelligence efforts have uncovered an increasing number of such activities by foreign intelligence services, including past and ongoing espionage operations directed against critical U.S. military and other government systems.