Technical surveillance is the use of “bugs” and other unauthorized surveillance technologies to intercept audio, voice, video, and/or data communications in order to access protected information. Technical Surveillance Countermeasures (TSCM) are Surveillancetechniques and technologies used to detect and defeat technical surveillance. Although technical surveillance and TSCM appear to be something out of a spy movie, they are very real issues for many government agencies, defense contractors, and tech companies.

Unfortunately, many individuals have little knowledge of technical surveillance and TSCM. In response, IMG, ( a leading international security firm, here provides some thoughts on a simple 3-pronged approach to technical surveillance and TSCM.

Technical Surveillance: Who is at Risk

Unlike other international security threats, most people are not at risk of technical surveillance. However, many at-risk individuals often underestimate the threat. Individuals at increased risk should be educated on Technical Surveillance Countermeasures (TSCM). These individuals include:

  1. The very wealthy
  2. Individuals who regularly deal with classified information
  3. Celebrities and those with access to celebrities
  4. Government officials and corporate officers
  5. Anyone who regularly works with sensitive financial, corporate, or
    technological data
  6. Companies that need to safeguard their intellectual property

Like individuals, certain firms and businesses are at a heightened risk of technical surveillance. Organizations working in the following industries should consider implementing Technical Surveillance Countermeasures (TSCM):

  1. Defense, Aerospace, and Maritime
  2. IT and Communications
  3. Energy (including Green Energy)
  4. Advanced Materials
  5. Nanotechnology
  6. Technology companies pursuing novel ideas and concepts

In addition to the above, high profile events where sensitive financial, corporate, and/or government information is exchanged can be considered at heightened risk of technical surveillance.

Technical Surveillance: The Warning Signs

Specially trained TSCM professionals are needed to detect technical surveillance. However, there are some warning signs to look for. At-risk organizations and individuals should be educated on the common indicators of technical surveillance. These indicators include:

  1. Unexplained leaks of information
  2. Signs of unauthorized entry without stealing
  3. Radio interference or unexplained static on electronic devices
  4. Repairmen arriving without notice
  5. Gifts or unexplained items placed in rooms were sensitive conversations take place
  6. Vans or repair trucks parked nearby with no apparent purpose
  7. Signs of tampering or modification to furniture, ceiling tiles, or electrical outlets

How to Contact TSCM Professionals if Surveillance is Suspected.

If technical surveillance is suspected, it is best to proceed cautiously. The steps taken to select a professional provider are critical, since it is not unknown for an unscrupulous individual to “find” a device in order to satisfy a perceived need.

Also, in order to maximize the chances of detecting surveillance, it is imperative that nothing is said or done to alert the eavesdropper. As such, conversations about bugs, information leaks, spies, and insider threats should occur in unaffiliated and random venues. Additionally, individuals should not use phones, faxes, or emails to contact TSCM professionals in the suspected target area. Ideally, TSCM professionals should be contacted through an unaffiliated phone line. From this point, the TSCM specialist will provide instructions on how future communications will take place.

Learn More About Technical Surveillance Countermeasures (TSCM)

Technical surveillance is a real threat, and international security professionals should take steps to neutralize it. To learn more about the TSCM services offered by IMG, please visit:

About the IMG Group

The IMG Group is a leading firm in international security and TSCM. Corporate or business organizations concerned about their need for detailed and robust international security planning can reach out to the IMG Group for assistance. The company’s expert security consultants provide services such as executive, employee, VIP, and expatriate travel security, risk and threat assessments, workplace violence prevention, crisis management planning, and more.


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