Most corporate security programs don’t practice counter surveillance. That may make sense for many – but not all. In fact, frequently our independent assessments of corporate security capabilities and requirements uncover opportunities where counter surveillance could have contributed significant value from a security risk management perspective in protecting their corporate headquarters and critical business operations as well as their executives and workforce.

Counter Surveillance Can Take Various Forms, From Physical to Electronic

Why isn’t counter surveillance leveraged more often? First, because it is an emerging tactic in the “corporate security toolbox.” Second, because it can take different forms.  And third, because many corporate security executives don’t fully understand how to engage it.  One form is physical counter surveillance.  Another is electronic counter surveillance.

How Physical Counter Surveillance Is Deployed

Physical counter surveillance can be undertaken by members of the corporate security team either on a routine or random basis, when a specific threat emerges or as part of an integrated plan to support executives and other personnel during a special event.  In addition to members of the corporate security team, additional staff – such as staff employed in executive offices, at the corporate headquarter’s main entrance, or in areas with elevated levels of risk – can be trained in some aspects of counter surveillance as part of improving their security awareness and enhancing their ability to execute their normal duties.

How Electronic Counter Surveillance – or TSCM – is Engaged

Another form of counter surveillance is commonly referred to as Technical Security Counter Surveillance Measures or TSCM.   This includes the use of highly sophisticated, laboratory-grade technical equipment and radio frequency (RF) spectrum analysis to assist in the discovery of powered devices and hidden transmitters to determine if there presently is, or may have been, an unauthorized intrusion of private areas and compromise of sensitive information.   More and more of our clients are engaging TSCM sweeps to ensure the integrity of their board meetings, C-level suites, executive cars and any corporate jets used by the board or management, off-site strategic annual planning meetings, and the residences of select senior executives.

Case in Point

We had recently conducted a rigorous risk, threat and vulnerability assessment for one of the largest convention centers in a leading U.S. metropolitan market.  A few weeks after we delivered our final report, the center’s Security Director followed up. “Among the risks to our organization outlined in your report,” she said, “are that an organization or lone individual could launch a planned attack on our facilities, operations or attendees. You suggested we consider engaging counter surveillance as a mitigating strategy, among others, right? Come explain to us what that means.” In this case, based on the client’s profile and requirements, we focused principally on human counterintelligence strategies designed specifically for the center’s environment. For another client, though – say a corporate security group responsible for security strategy, executive protection, intellectual property protection and headquarter security, we ensure this seminar also covers electronic counter surveillance and is application. What’s your perspective on counter surveillance?  Have you engaged it before as part of your corporate security strategy and operations? Have you been successful in these efforts?  Let me know your thoughts.