FBI Warns Boston Tech Community To Be Wary of Russian Investors

Call it The Cold War 2.0.

In a highly unusual move, the FBI is openly warning the Massachusetts tech community to be wary of Russian venture capitalists who may in fact be working on behalf of the Russian government to gain access to sensitive and emerging American technology. The warning extends not only to private businesses, but also to research centers and universities, especially those with ties to the U.S. defense industry.

In an op-ed piece published late Friday in the Boston Business Journal, a Boston-based FBI agent said the agency has become increasingly aware that Russian government-backed entities have been expanding their presence in the U.S. through partnerships with Boston and Silicon Valley tech firms. The agency believes that many of these partnerships were being backed by Russia's Skolkovo Foundation, which was created by Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev in 2010 to help modernize the Russian economy.

According to the piece, the agency is not only concerned that the Russian government could gain access to sensitive U.S. technology but also that Russian VC firms will obtain intellectual property rights through their partnership deals. The agency is also worried that the partnerships put U.S. businesses at greater risk of having their IT systems hacked.

"Though it may sound alarmist, losses of technology, research and intellectual property are a real danger. Preventing foreseeable and predictable losses is critical to our nation. U.S. technology replicated overseas means U.S. employees may lose their jobs and U.S. investments may suffer losses," wrote Assistant Special Agent Lucia Ziobro, in her piece.

"Furthermore, diverted technology could affect the primacy of the United States in both economic and military terms and it could compromise our nation’s security. In the wrong hands, especially those of foreign governments, everyone loses except our adversaries," Ziobro added.

Next story loading loading..