Investors should be extremely concerned about the widespread theft of information from corporate networks. In recent years, hackers have successfully stolen vast quantities of sensitive data from U.S. businesses, including business strategies, research and development information, transactional information, bid data, financial information, formulas, blueprints, and designs. Government officials like to say there are two types of businesses: those that know they've been hacked, and those that don't know it yet.
Why use hackers to steal information from businesses? The answer is simple: economic competitive advantage.
(Read More: 10 Ways Companies Get Hacked)
When it comes to China, widely considered the most aggressive sponsor of cyber espionage against corporations, U.S. intelligence officials believe that the government is motivated to steal information and provide it to Chinese national businesses in order to help strengthen their competitive standing. This week, cyber forensics company Mandiant shed some light on China's activity, issuing a groundbreaking public report claiming that one group of Chinese hackers stole terabytes of data from at least 141 organizations. (One terabyte is the equivalent of approximately 220 million pages of text. That's a lot of secrets.)
The size and scope of cyber espionage against businesses is significant and growing. A recent National Intelligence Estimate characterizes cyber espionage against the US private sector as a serious threat to American economic competiveness, costing the US economy between $25 and $100 billion a year. These are just estimates – the true nature of the problem is almost impossible to value or determine today due to lack of data.
Many companies have been slow to respond to this threat. Some are overwhelmed by the problem and think that there's nothing they can do. This is dangerous thinking. According to a major data breach study by Verizon, 97 percent of all successful cyber penetrations could have been avoided through simple or intermediate security controls.
So what's an investor to do?
(Read More:The White House Gets Friendly With Hackers)