Technical Surveillance Counter Measure (TSCM)

Kartik Vig, Director, Security Consulting, Netrika

It’s a competitive world, and not everyone plays by the book. Sadly, gathering competitive intelligence is one of the ways being used to not only stay abreast of competition, but may be even try beating the competition to the finishing line. It is an ever-increasing threat in today’s data-driven world, and it ranges from criminals trying to obtain business critical information for commercial or technical gains, to sophisticated state-sponsored organisations looking for political and military gains. While it is not always possible to know every threat present around us, a robust security policy encompassing physical security, cybersecurity, and protection from electronic surveillance is necessary to ensure that your secrets remain secret. Devices being used by perpetrators for surveillance and gathering intelligence are increasingly becoming more sophisticated, small and inexpensive, which can compromise not only your sensitive information, your private conversations, your plans as well as secrets but also the entire security of your building.

Critical and sensitive information whether of business or personal nature, can be misused by any detractor and may lead to financial loss and/ or loss of reputation. With our unique approach and state of the art TSCM equipment, we offer a comprehensive TSCM solution, which could greatly improve the security of your organisation. TSCM helps ensure safeguarding of critical/ sensitive information in a professional and comprehensive manner.

What is Technical Surveillance Counter Measure?

Technical Surveillance Counter Measure (TCSM) is a term that was coined by the United States government, that describes the action of sweeping for devices that may be spying on you. TSCM was initially aimed at sanitising rooms for listening devices by detection of emission of radio waves. The process of TCSM has evolved to the point where non – radio emissions can also be detected. It encompasses securing communications technology, thoroughly inspecting and fortifying information technology and ensuring a heightened protocol of physical security.

With a proper TSCM sweep, one can counter the risk of corporate spying, ensure confidentiality and safeguard inside information – losing which could impact your firm. The goal of a TSCM sweep is to identify existing security gaps and potential weaknesses in technical and communications security and to recommend corrective actions to neutralize the identified risks. Mentioned below are some of the most used surveillance tools, that maybe used by perpetrators trying to steal your information:

  1. Mini audio/ video cameras and recorders, as in everyday use items.
  2. Radio microphones, IP and wireless microphones and cameras.
  3. Wired microphones or cameras.
  4. Devices intercepting the electromagnetic radiation.
  5. Eavesdropping software monitoring GSM phones, computers, laptops and tablets.
  6. Microphones transmitting information through electrical grid, internet cables.

Technologies used in Technical Surveillance Counter Measure and Caution

I n today’s technologically vibrant world, there are a number of TSCM technologies available in the market, from radio signal analysers to spectrum analysers, non-linear junction detectors to IR detectors, camera detectors etc. However, one needs to be cautious as use of inexpensive and local devices for conduct of TSCM may lead to a false sense of security and loss of all security efforts envisioned for securing critical information. It is therefore highly recommended to adopt a comprehensive approach using state-of the art technology to counter the threat of illicit surveillance.

To Conclude

Deploying TSCM measures will help safeguard your edge over your competition, your trade secrets and your conversations from illicit surveillance/ intelligence gathering. It is also one of the best ways of mitigating such risks. Scheduling regular TSCM sweeps can safeguard your trade secrets as well as ensure peace of mind.


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