Some say the ability of the United States to wage war is by far the most advanced in the world. Strategists have for years claimed that our technology and superior training of our personnel are what really gives the U.S. the edge in modern day conflict. No truer words have been spoken when it comes to the new fifth domain, cyberspace.

However, there is an aspect related to the acts of cyber aggression and espionage that has not received much attention.

The theft of intellectual property from defense contractors and general businesses is not a trivial matter and has significant consequences.

With respect to defense contractors, if the stolen intellectual property is related to a weapons system, the system might have to be scrapped resulting in the contractor of the Defense Department eating the financial loss of research and development to date.

In the general business arena, the same holds true with an addition potential loss in competitive advantage. For those in the private sector that goes right to the bottom line and for publicly traded companies could spell a hit to their stock price which could impact the 401k’s of the general public.

That became increasingly evident in a new report by McAfee detailing the so-called “Operation Shady Rat,” a massive advanced persistent threat (APT)-type attack campaign which hit mostly U.S.-based organizations and government agencies (49 of the 70 victims), but also government agencies in Taiwan, South Korea, Vietnam, and Canada. The story, detailed further in a Vanity Fair article, suggests these attacks represent tens if not hundreds of billions of dollars of impact–and remains a key concern with Defense officials.

Cyber breaches have provided a hard lesson that we should learn from. Once thing is certain, clearly we must increase our attention on the technology and training that support our cyber defenses. What we are doing right now is just not working.

Kevin G. Coleman is a long-time security technology executive and former Chief Strategist at Netscape. He is Senior Fellow with the Technolytics Institute, where he provides consulting services on strategic technology and security issues.