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What Is TSCM?

The term Technical Surveillance Countermeasures (TSCM) was originally coined by the United States Government. The term initially described a service conducted by individuals who had experience with electronics, radios, and phone systems. The objective then was to detect radio emissions and wiretaps. TSCM services evolved over the years to include the detection of non-radio emissions after the discovery of “The Thing,” a cavity resonator or passive eavesdropping device discovered in Moscow in the office of a U.S. Ambassador in 1952. The existence of this device remained top secret until the 1960s.

TSCM Bug Sweep

People in the business refer to a TSCM inspection as, “Bug Sweep,” or, “De-Bugging”. Regardless of what you call the inspection, it should be conducted by experienced, certified, and trained TSCM Examiners. TSD examiners will inspect the premises with a number of specially designed electronics and tools currently used to inspect high-value targets such as government offices, corporate buildings, and private homes. These electronic tools must continually be updated, calibrated, and tested to keep up with the ever-changing advances in science and electronic threats.

TSD using Non-Linear Junction Detector. (NLJD)

Useful Terms & Definitions

Below are terms for your review, we like to demystify what we do for clients but sometimes we forget terms and acronyms in our profession do not explain what we are talking about. 

  • Active: a device that will constantly monitor and/or record; audio, photos, video, or data and transmit them to a receiver and/or cloud-based server.
  • Agent of or Hostile Agent: This is a term to describe a person/employee that knowingly works for the eavesdropper. It does not matter if they where coerced into working for them or paid too.
  • Amplifier: a device used to increase the strength of the input signal.
  • Antenna: a device that radiates or receives RF energy.
  • Band: a range of frequencies between two definite limits.
  • Bandwidth: the width of a band of frequencies used for a particular purpose.
  • Bug(s): generally refers to a hidden listening/recording listening device that is made up of a microphone and may have a transmitter, a video, or a camera that is passive or actively transmitting the information.
  • Carrier Current: low-powered RF signals transmitted along electrical conductors.
  • Electromagnetic Spectrum: the full range of wavelengths or frequencies that cover radio waves, UV, visible light to gamma rays.
  • HOIS: hostile intelligence service
  • In-Place Monitoring (IPM): is a system that can detect potential electronic threats within or outside of; offices, homes, or off-site venues.
  • Off-site Radio Frequency (RF) Monitoring: inspection of an area for radio frequencies given off by common surveillance devices.
  • Passive: a device that is not active nor consistently recording or sending information gathered. These kinds of devices store information for physical retrieval or are sent in an electronic (RF) burst to a receiver or cloud-based server.
  • Technical Surveillance Countermeasures (TSCM): bug-sweep or electronic countermeasures intended to find and remove electronic surveillance or tracking devices.
  • Transmitter: a device that sends information (sound, video, or data) as a signal to a receiver.
  • Receiver: a device that receives information signals such as a; radio, television, phone, etc.
  • RF Spectrum: the region within the electromagnetic spectrum known as radio frequency