Selecting a TSCM Service Provider

Many companies have not had the experience of selecting a Technical Surveillance Countermeasures (TSCM) service company and may be faced with the complex problem of selecting the right organization. Therefore, this information is provided to assist you in obtaining the necessary information to make the right decision.

Which types of companies offer TSCM services?
Generally speaking, most private investigation and security companies offer TSCM surveys as a part of their listed services. Some of these companies may not actually perform the service themselves, but refer the assignment to experts who perform TSCM full-time. However, several companies have purchased various levels of detection equipment and perform TSCM service themselves infrequently and part-time, along with their many other listed services.

How long will a TSCM survey take?
Five (5) man hours per office is the average time for a through TSCM survey. The construction of the facility may speed or delay the actual inspection time required. The majority of this time should be spent on technical analysis of existing wiring, intercommunication systems, and physical inspection. An office which is surveyed in less than three (3) man hours will accomplish nothing more than a superficial inspection and would fail to provide adequate protection.

What type of special training have you received in technical surveillance countermeasures (TSCM)?
A qualified TSCM technician will have thorough training in TSCM from a recognized organization or government agency. Personnel claiming previous government or industrial experience must have actually performed countermeasures themselves. Recent training and experience on computer-based telephone systems is also required. Sophisticated TSCM equipment in the hands of personnel with inadequate training does nothing more than provide a false sense of security.

What will the TSCM survey consist of?
A comprehensive TSCM survey should begin with a tour of the facility to be inspected and will consist of the following:

Telephone Instrument Analysis
The telephone instruments must be tested for devices and modifications that would allow the interception of room audio and telephone conversation. Electronic analysis must be performed using test equipment capable of activation and detection of active hookswitch bypass devices. The telephone instruments should also be disassembled and inspected for possible devices and wiring modifications.

Telephone Line Analysis
The telephone lines must be electronically tested for devices and wiring modifications that would allow the interception of room audio and telephone conversations. Telephone line analysis with a TDR must also be performed to reveal the location of all wire irregularities, including splice points and junction blocks. some sophisticated wire taps are electronically undetectable and will appear as a splice on a TDR. Each of these locations must be physically inspected to reveal possible devices and wiring modifications including attacks which may not be electronically detectable.

Radio Frequency Spectrum Analysis
An analysis of the RF spectrum in the areas surveyed covering a frequency range of 3 Khz to 2 GHz (approximately) must be performed. These analyses must be conducted with one or more spectrum analyzers or countermeasures search receiver with a spectrum type display to detect all types of RF transmissions. The source of each signal must be resolved by determining that the signal is not emanating from the areas surveyed. Special techniques such as carrier current, subcarrier, and frequency hopping must also be addressed.

Non-Linear Junction Analysis
The areas inspected must be analyzed with a NLJD to detect all hidden clandestine devices including tape recorders, microwave transmitters, remote controlled transmitters, infrared or ultrasonic devices, as well as other non-linear junction devices that are possibly beyond the detection range of other test equipment.

Physical Inspection
A thorough physical search must be performed in the areas of concern for clandestine devices. All outlets, boxes, light fixtures and other containers and cavities must be inspected to determine validity of installation, detect concealed objects, and capability of concealing objects. Open, examine and test (when appropriate) all items, equipment, fixture artifacts to detect concealed objects or concealment capability. Particular attention to walls which are adjacent to other areas must also be given during the physical search.

Technical Evaluation
Technical evaluation of adjacent areas must be performed to test the level of audio conductance through walls, conduit, doors, windows, etc. into these outside areas. All wiring must be inspected and electronically tested for audio transmissions out of the areas inspected.

Telephone Instrument Analysis
The telephone instruments must be tested for devices and modifications that would allow the interception of room audio and telephone conversation. Electronic analysis must be performed using test equipment capable of activation and detection of active hookswitch bypass devices. The telephone instruments should also be disassembled and inspected for possible devices and wiring modifications.

Telephone Line Analysis
The telephone lines must be electronically tested for devices and wiring modifications that would allow the interception of room audio and telephone conversations. Telephone line analysis with a TDR must also be performed to reveal the location of all wire irregularities, including splice points and junction blocks. some sophisticated wire taps are electronically undetectable and will appear as a splice on a TDR. Each of these locations must be physically inspected to reveal possible devices and wiring modifications including attacks which may not be electronically detectable.

Radio Frequency Spectrum Analysis
An analysis of the RF spectrum in the areas surveyed covering a frequency range of 3 Khz to 2 Ghz (approximately.) must be performed. These analyses must be conducted with one or more spectrum analyzers or countermeasures search receiver with a spectrum type display to detect all types of RF transmissions. The source of each signal must be resolved by determining that the signal is not emanating from the areas surveyed. Special techniques such as carrier current, subcarrier, and frequency hopping must also be addressed.

Non-Linear Junction Analysis
The areas inspected must be analyzed with a NLJD to detect all hidden clandestine devices including tape recorders, microwave transmitters, remote controlled transmitters, infrared or ultrasonic devices, as well as other non-linear junction devices that are possibly beyond the detection range of other test equipment.

Physical Inspection
A thorough physical search must be performed in the areas of concern for clandestine devices. All outlets, boxes, light fixtures and other containers and cavities must be inspected to determine validity of installation, detect concealed objects, and capability of concealing objects. Open, examine and test (when appropriate) all items, equipment, fixture artifacts to detect concealed objects or concealment capability. Particular attention to walls which are adjacent to other areas must also be given during the physical search.

Technical Evaluation
Technical evaluation of adjacent areas must be performed to test the level of audio conductance through walls, conduit, doors, windows, etc. into these outside areas. All wiring must be inspected and electronically tested for audio transmissions out of the areas inspected.

Can less sophisticated and cheaper equipment be used to lower the cost of the survey?
Not with any assurance of having provided even a minimal amount of protection. Equipment such as field strength meters, regenerative feedback detectors or other advertised inexpensive detectors have been found to be worthless for finding modern eavesdropping devices.

Can you be guaranteed that a room or facility is absolutely free of eavesdropping devices?
No. Just as in physical security where there is no absolute protection against intruders, there is no positive way of assuring absolute audio privacy short of a specially built room which is guarded 24 hours a day.

Should countermeasures be performed periodically?
Yes, periodic surveys should be performed particularly in situations which call for assurance of privacy during short periods such as annual Board of Directors meetings, labor negotiations, land acquisitions, merger or contract negotiations, take-over strategies, product design or litigation tactics. Whether this is best for your situation can be ascertained by conferring with a CSI consultant.

Helpful Links

CSI realizes that the responsibility of selecting a TSCM service provider is a difficult one. Accordingly, the Company provides the links below to help make a more informed decision.