Technical Surveillance Countermeasures

Understanding Technical Surveillance Countermeasures

What You Need To Know

A Technical Surveillance Countermeasure (TSCM), also known as a “bug” sweep or electronic surveillance sweep, is a highly-specialized service that detects the presence of eavesdropping devices such as hidden microphones or “bugs.” The goal of a Technical Surveillance Countermeasure is to identify existing security breaches and/or potential weaknesses in technical and communications security and to recommend corrective action to neutralize the risks.

Why MSA for TSCM?

MSA Investigations is one of the nation’s leading and most reliable providers of professional TSCM sweeps. Our clients include financial institutions, major corporations, law firms, and governmental and non-profit entities. We offer a range of TCSM services including:

  • Electronic eavesdropping detection

  • Anti-surveillance services

  • Wiretap and covert camera detection

  • Communications security (COMSEC)

  • Technical security

MSA’s team of qualified, expert TSCM technicians are among the most knowledgeable and experienced professionals in the world. They have performed hundreds of sweeps for a range of prestigious clients nationwide. Nobody has more experience, or better-equipped to conduct your Technical Surveillance Countermeasures.

About MSA’s Technical Surveillance Countermeasure Team

Our dedicated TSCM technicians have been extensively trained, with certified instruction on the latest state-of-the-art TSCM equipment. To keep them on the cutting edge, our TSCM team routinely attend periodic refresher courses and workshops to maintain an updated working knowledge of the ever-changing countermeasures technology field. A special attention is paid to the new, more sophisticated breed of digital eavesdropping devices.

Our Equipment

MSA Investigations utilizes a wide array of the finest, most high-tech TSCM equipment available. We continually evaluate new equipment and software as it hits the market to maintain our technical edge. Our equipment is a major reason why we consistently provide our clients with the highest level of service.

Learn more about TSCM inspection equipment

Discretion and Confidentiality

MSA places the highest premium on our client’s privacy. Due to the sensitive nature of electronic surveillance and eavesdropping, we ensure that your information will always remain confidential. Our goal is to assist clients maintain the integrity of their work environment against the threat of electronic eavesdropping.

Frequently Asked Questions About Technical Surveillance Countermeasures (TSCM)

What information is required when conducting a criminal history record search?

A Technical Surveillance Countermeasure, also known as a “bug” sweep or electronic surveillance sweep, is a highly-specialized service that detects the presence of eavesdropping devices such as hidden microphones or “bugs.” The goal of a Technical Surveillance Countermeasure is to identify existing security breaches and/or potential weaknesses in technical and communications security and to recommend corrective action to neutralize the risks.

What is the definition of counter surveillance?

Counter surveillance refers to measures taken to prevent or disrupt surveillance, including electronic eavesdropping. Counter surveillance may include electronic methods such as TSCM “bug” sweeping, the process of detecting electronic devices, covert listening devices and visual surveillance devices (video). More often than not, counter surveillance will employ a set of actions (countermeasures) designed to hamper effective surveillance.

Who is a target of eavesdropping or spying?

Nobody is immune from spying. Companies, law firms, non-profit entities and charities, governments, private individuals—it happens everywhere. If a party discusses valuable information that’s of benefit to anyone, e.g., business competitors, opponents in a lawsuit, or some other adversary, they are a potential target.

What are some indicators or “warning signs” that you are the subject of spying?

  • You recently lost a Bid or Request For Proposal that you would normally win

  • You have an unexplained decrease in new sales

  • Your business strategies are revealed

  • Your pricing and sales strategy is leaked to your competitors

  • Contract negotiations for labor and contracts become increasingly more difficult

  • Company trade secrets are exposed

If any of the above has occurred, you should consider revisiting your risk management protocols and schedule a MSA Technical Surveillance Countermeasure sweep from MSA Investigations.

What are some high threat business situations?

Anyone can be the target of covert eavesdropping and spying, but some are at higher risk due to the nature of their occupation, financial position or legal situation. We’ve found that companies are in most danger when:

  • Business expansion or reorganization plans are being discussed

  • Key executive(s) leave or are leaving

  • New products, pricing or marketing plans are being developed

  • Acquisitions or mergers are being planned

  • Work occurs in a sensitive or high-profile industry

  • Executives or clients are subject to media attention

  • There are ongoing labor negotiations, labor problems or union activity

  • Any type of litigation, lawsuit, or other civil action is involved

  • Impending layoffs or termination of employees

Where are you likely to be targeted?

The Company boardroom, telephone system, mobile phones, fax machines, and computers are examples confidential information sources that may be targets for the eavesdropper. Also, eavesdropping is not always confined to the office. Executives and other key personnel can be targets at home or cars.

Where would a listening device typically be hidden?

Any area in which important, valuable information would be openly discussed—in person or phone—which has not been secured. Examples we’ve seen include:

  • Business offices, including conference rooms, boardrooms and trading floors

  • Private residences

  • Executive residences

  • Corporate apartments

  • Vehicles (cars, aircraft, boats)

  • Mobile phones

  • Home phones (landlines)

  • Quarterly board meetings

  • Off-site business meetings

What types of devices will you screen for during the sweep?

There are many types of electronic eavesdropping devices or bugs. During an MSA Investigations TSCM sweep, we will typically search for the following devices:

  • Micro wireless video devices

  • Laser and infrared eavesdropping devices

  • Wire and microphone taps

  • Telephone taps

  • Carrier current devices

Where can bugs be hidden?

Electronic eavesdropping devices (bugs) can be hidden in any room, device, furnishing or container that would typically be found in an office or home setting. Today’s eavesdropping devices are smaller, more sophisticated, less expensive and easier to hide than they have ever been. Video bugs have also grown in popularity, which can record or even transmit events live. The good news is that all of these devices are detectable with the right people, equipment and methodology.

What happens during a typical MSA Investigations TSCM examination?

Pre-sweep, our TSCM professionals will conduct a detailed examination of your location in order to:

  • Discretely determine threats to the location

  • Detect the presence of technical surveillance devices and hazards

  • Identify technical security weaknesses that may allow illegal penetration of your facility

  • Provide a professional evaluation of your facility’s technical security position

During the actual sweep, our team will perform a comprehensive visual, physical, and electronic inspection to determine the presence and location of any and all electronic eavesdropping devices. We will also identify other technical weaknesses that may exist in your security posture.

During visual inspections, we look for hidden eavesdropping devices in areas in which they are commonly found.

During physical inspections, we take it a step further, thoroughly examining furniture, outlet covers, ceilings, and other locations common for eavesdropping devices such as microphones, recording devices, transmitters, and camera systems.

Our electronic inspection leverages a variety of sophisticated equipment to identify and locate hostile signals and other telltale signs of eavesdropping equipment. Additionally, we survey AC electrical outlets, telephone cables, computer lines, and other wiring capable of transmitting communication, looking for wiretaps and other intercept devices.

After all TSCM sweeps, we provide a detailed written report of the results, and any recommendations for improving your technical security posture.