KENNEBUNK — The FBI’s senior representative in Maine will discuss economic espionage – the bureau’s top priority after terrorism – at the Saturday meeting of the Association of Former Intelligence Officers (AFIO) Maine Chapter. The presentation by Aaron Steps, supervisory senior resident agent in charge of the FBI’s three Maine offices, will begin at 2 p.m. in the Program Center of the Brick Store Museum, 4 Dane St., Kennebunk. The meeting is open to the public.

Cyber-based economic espionage, or computer hacking, targets intellectual property and private-sector confidential information, eroding the strength and innovation of the nation’s economy. Experts estimate that for every American company that detects an attack, 100 others may unknowingly be victimized. The presentation will describe the nature and extent of the threat, the FBI’s strategy to counter economic espionage and the resources available to American businesses to protect their information. A brief question period will follow the presentation.

Steps, who previously worked in the finance industry in New York City, joined the bureau in 2002 and has worked in the counterintelligence and counterterrorism sectors at posts including San Francisco as well as Nairobi, Kenya and Islamabad, Pakistan.

According to the FBI, economic espionage is a problem that costs the American economy hundreds of billions of dollars per year and puts national security at risk. While it is not a new threat, it is a growing one, and the theft attempts by foreign competitors and adversaries are becoming more brazen and more varied in their approach. The FBI estimates that hundreds of billions of U.S. dollars are lost to foreign competitors every year. These foreign competitors deliberately target economic intelligence in advanced technologies and flourishing U.S. industries.

For more information on the event, contact Bob Dyer at 985-3634.