Entry Level TSCM Equipment in General
Regularly, the author gets questions about what type of simple-to-use bug sweep equipment that can be provided which a non-technical person or private investigator can use for quick, superficial bug sweeps.
When at all possible a security professional or private investigator should not attempt to perform anything except a superficial bug sweep themselves, but should bring in an outside TSCM specialist such as those listed on our Referral List. These specialists have both the technical background, extensive technical equipment and tend to be hundreds of times (if not thousands of times) more effective then any private investigator, law enforcement officer, or bodyguard with even very sophisticated bug detection equipment.
A private investigator or protective specialist is not a medical doctor, and yet many of them are skilled in advance first aid and have a basic first responder kit. Most are not professional photographers and yet they use cameras in their line of work... same thing with TSCM equipment.
That said; in many cases, it simply isn't practical to bring in an outside TSCM specialist. Very often, the client wants the bug sweep done "now," and does not want to wait around while the PI sets up an appointment with a sweeper. Sometimes, the senior executive requesting the sweep just does not understand that real bug sweeps cost thousands of dollars, not hundreds.
In other cases, the threat just is not high enough to warrant bringing in an outside TSCM specialist for several days (yes, real sweeps take days, not hours). The PI or security professional must tactfully drive home the fact that they can only provide the client with a cursory sweep and that is only a stopgap measure until the "specialized TSCM people/bug sweepers" can get there.
If you're a PI or security professional and indeed get stuck performing a limited scope bug sweep service for someone just establish that they understand in advance that for their limited budget they get limited time and capabilities for the sweep. Explain to them that all you can offer them is a "quick check" for less then it will cost for a full sweep. Let them know that the only way they can get "real TSCM" is to cough up a few extra grand so you can bring in an outside TSCM firm (with several hundred, if not thousand of pounds of equipment).
Important Hint: If you are a PI, you will actually make a lot MORE money by bringing in an outside sweep specialist. Also, contemplate the massive risk of you having performed a bug sweep for a client and not finding a bug that was actually there... On the other hand, what about a bug that is more sophisticated then the $799 magic box you found on E-bay or bought at a SpyShop? Will you be able to explain in court and to a jury how you were providing sweep services, but had neither legitimate equipment, nor formal training to offer such services?
CPM-700 Counter Surveillance Probe and Monitor
1) Broad-Band Diode Detector Systems
The first and perhaps the most useful basic instrument for the PI to start with is the humble "Broad-Band Diode Detector." This instrument sucks in a wide chunk of RF spectrum applies it to a sensitive diode, then amplifies and displays the relative voltage variations. The only problem is that because of the WIDTH of the spectrum it is sucking in it generally much less sensitive then a tuned system. This becomes a bit of a compromise; on the one hand, you can very quickly sniff around a room (for minimal cost), but you have to be right on top of the bug to actually detect it.
When using Broad-Band Diode Detector the operator has to move the antenna and probes around, and use it much the same way you would a small three-inch wide paintbrush. When training someone to use this type of instrument this instructor will sometimes give the student a three-inch wide paint brush, a bucket of paint, and a 4*8 foot sheet of wood to practice on. The antenna and/or probes must be use in horizontal, vertical, and diagonal positions, and remember that a uniform slow moving technique is critical (similar to when painting).
2044 - Ambient RF Strength Indicator
A good example of this type of equipment is the CPM-700, 2060LV, 2075A, TRD, or 2044. Typically a "Broad-Band Diode Detector" system, plus amplified antenna, infrared, magnetic probes, cases and other accessories appropriate for sweep work will cost between $2,500 and $3,000.
The "Broad-Band Diode Detector" systems are so important (and inexpensive) that each sweep detail (and anyone even remotely contemplating doing sweeps) should have at least one complete system for each person on the both the sweep team AND the protective detail.
OSC-5000 Omni-Spectral Correlator (OSCOR)
2) Tuned Receiver System
The second helpful piece of equipment is similar to the "Broad-Band Diode Detector," but a series of filters is used to "sharpen up" or isolate the signal, and can be tuned to a very narrow splinter of the spectrum being examined. This radically increases the sensitivity of the instrument hundreds, and sometimes thousands of times, and often millions of times, over that of a simple Broad-Band Diode Detector system.
Some variations of this type of product "fold" or compress the spectrum, while others meticulously pick out signals one at a time. There are units available that are little more than a fancy computer controlled scanners, other units that are purpose built for TSCM functions, and others still, which are highly sophisticated laboratory grade instruments. A good example of this type of equipment purpose built for TSCM would be the OSCOR, Eagle, and Scanlock TSCM systems.
These systems are best used by locating them in a fixed position such as a clients desk, conference table, or other area where confidential discussion take place. The system is then allowed to run in an automatic mode for a certain amount of time, after which it is moved either to a different location in the room, or to an entirely new area to be checked.
In the case of an OSCOR the area to be checked is divided into something between ten-by-ten or twelve-by-twelve grids with the instrument (in this case an OSCOR) being placed in the center of each grid and allowed to run for a period of time to complete multiple scans of the spectrum. The instrument is then moved to the next grid, and the process repeated. Since most executive offices are only 250-300 square feet two or three placements (or 2-3 separate instruments) can result in a fairly decent evaluation.
Such a system requires little or no technical background, and virtually no expertise in TSCM. Of course, they by no means replace modern laboratory grade diagnostic equipment, but they do provide a happy medium between a simple "Broad-Band Diode Detector" and high-end instruments.
Typically an entry level "Tuned Receiver System " system, plus amplified antenna, infrared, magnetic probes, cases and other accessories will cost between $15,000 and $25,000. Of course, systems costing 10 times more are available, but they are only practical and cost-effective for full time sweep teams.
On the other end of the spectrum watch out for tuned systems costing less then $10,000 as they are typically nothing more than consumer grade radio scanners with a cobbled together computer interface, or some gadget based on a 25 year old product that someone is trying to milk for a revenue stream.
However, don't use just a "Tuned Receiver System" system alone, but supplement it with a "Broad-Band Diode Detector" that you use to sweep the walls, floors, ceiling, and furniture while the larger system (such as an OSCOR) is running in an automatic mode.
NJE4000 - ORION NLJD
3) Non-Linear Junction Detector
The NLJD is a handy basic tool, but it requires a very slow moving technique and is very time consuming to use (imagine a sloth doing Tai Chi). It does not require a high level of either training, or technical knowledge to use; and the entire system can be carried in something the size of a small briefcase.
An NLJD is typically swept around the room an a completely passive mode much the same way as the "Broad-Band Diode Detector" system are used so that every square inch of the room is "sniffed" while the other instruments are being used. However, a NLJD should not be used in an active mode when other TSCM instruments are in use. After the bulk of the sweep is completed, and the other instruments are off line the NLJD can be place in "Active Mode" and used to scan for eavesdropping devices not detected using previous equipment.
A good example of this type of equipment is the ORION or NJE-4000. Typically, an entry level "Non-Linear Junction Detector" system with accessories will cost between $15,000 and $20,000. Avoid the older designs with the larger shoulder carried controllers as they are virtually deaf, and extraordinary difficult to use. Hint: if it doesn't have digital signal processing then it is based on an obsolete and outdated design.
A typical starter kit for an in-house TSCM function, or PI who periodically gets called on for sweeps would include a CPM-700, OSCOR, ORION NLJD and a small amount of hand tools and accessories. Such a kit should be small enough to permit a normal adult to carry all of it into a client site in one trip or take all of it on a plane as carry-on baggage.
Equipment above these three basic types is strictly within the realm of professional TSCM specialists. There is no reason for a Private Investigator, Executive Protection Specialist, or Corporate Security Officer to try to obtain or use a TDR, spectrum analyzer, impedance analyzer, X-ray, thermal imaging, and so on as doing so will rapidly get them in way over their head. In all of this, do not forget the basic tools you will need for the physical inspection, such as flashlights, ladders, coveralls, and so on.
If you do decide to build up a modest amount of equipment for a corporate sweep, don't get the bright idea that you can just buy fifty thousand dollars in equipment and then instantly parlay it into a daily fee of five grand (many neophytes have made this mistake, and have learned a rather expensive and painful lesson).
In the words of "Q", the patron saint of the business,
"Oh, do be careful with this one, 007".
When you are interested in purchasing any kind of TSCM or countermeasures gear please contact us.
Granite Island Group offers a full line of communications and technical security products ranging from inexpensive body worn bug detectors, small entry level kits (such as this), to full TSCM deployment kits suitable for high threat corporate and diplomatic TSCM inspections.
We are the best place to purchase an OSCOR, OSC-5000, ORION, CPM-700, cryptographic devices, secure communications equipment, Bomb Disposal, and related equipment. We would be happy to assist you with your equipment purchase, and can offer you very favorable pricing, and delivery. Our prices and terms are very competitive, and we offer only the highest quality equipment available in the industry. We are quite simply the best place on Earth to buy your TSCM gear.
All TSCM equipment listed here is Dual-use Munitions List Items (MLI), or Commerce Controlled List Items (CCLI). MLI/CCLI items are highly controlled by the U. S. Government, and cannot be transferred, exported, sold, or given, to a foreign country, a non-U. S. Citizen or National, or a non-permanent U. S. Citizen, without a valid State and/or Commerce Department Export authorization that is issued in advance, and which actually issues forth from the Department of Defense and the U.S. Intelligence Community. Some equipment (or certain end users) even requires a formal authorization by the President of the United States for the transaction, and not even the DOS, DHS, DOC, DOD, DIA, or CIA can override this requirement.
It is the responsibility of the manufacture and of the end-user or purchaser, to comply with applicable requirements, and to obtain all necessary authorizations, licenses, or approvals to facilitate export, transport, possession, or acquisition. The use, disposition, export, import, or re-export of these items are subject to the provisions of law referencing written End-User Certification. Including, but not limited to, the Arms Export Control Act (22 USC 2751 et seq); Export Administration Act 1979 (50 USC App. 2041 et seq); as contained under Executive Order 12924; International Traffic in Arms Regulations (22 CFR 120 et seq); Export Administration Regulations (15 CFR 730 et seq); Foreign Assets Control Regulations (31 CFR 500 et seq); and the Espionage Act (18 USC 793 et seq), the Wassenaar Arrangement, and other treaties and laws. Even providing TSCM training, to someone who is not a U.S. Citizen requires also requires State Department approvals.
All TSCM, TEMPEST, SIGINT, and related equipment without exception is all covered by "The United States Munitions List" under ITAR 121.1, Category XI(b) as Military and Space Electronics, as "electronic systems or equipment designed or modified to counteract electronic surveillance or monitoring."
Most TSCM equipment is considered a Tier 1 defense article, but some more simplistic devices, tools, or systems may qualify only as Tier 2 devices on the USML or "Munitions List". Further, most TSCM equipment also qualifies as ECCN 5A001.e and 5A001 equipment and is subject to the export licensing authority of the Department of State, Directorate of Defense Trade Controls (22 CFR part 121).
By international treaty, most nations have laws that parallel these U.S. Laws (as arms controls), so that it is extremely difficult and costly to legitimately get this equipment across any borders of any country, and if you get caught with it, and you can not prove that you obtained in it very specific legitimate ways you could be in for a very awkward situation, but perhaps even not right away, but eventually.
This equipment, and this style of equipment and function of equipment was all initially designed by the U.S. Military, for purposes of military functions, and various companies evolved their products out of these military originated products, and then sold these new products back to the military which formed a closed loop that reinforced that these systems are still legally considered military arms.
Even if you are a U.S. Citizen and the equipment actually belongs to you and you are merely importing and importing it for your own use, you risk a forfeiture and seizure of all of your equipment that you are traveling with unless your paperwork is spot-on perfect.
Companies that manufacture TSCM and related equipment usually can not make a profit merely selling the equipment legitimately in their own country and they will often play games about the exportability of the gear, or will often falsify export paperwork in order to make an illegal sale (do not be taken for a fool). Generally, you should not trust what the company who actually makes the gear tells you, but instead seek the counsel of someone who actually works with a wide range of equipment across a range of companies and nations who can actually explain it in an unbiased way, these gurus, grey beards, engineers, and wizards can save you vast problems.
Better yet, go to your attorney, have then do some research, and then have THEM contact an expert in TSCM and assist them in gaining an in-depth understanding of the issues, then have them write inquiry letters to government agencies where the function and origin of the equipment is explained and ask for an official ruling from the government, in which your attorney then crafts into a legal memorandum. What the attorney eventually puts into their well researched memorandum will often dramatically be different then what the manufacture of the equipment will tell you.
As any legitimate approval for a transaction takes many weeks, and often months it is important to plan for notable delays, and not to wait until the very last minute to obtain needed gear. It is wisest for the actual end user to contact the U.S. Embassy in the country where the goods will ultimately be used, go through the interview and visitations process with them, initiate the end user approval process, and get approvals for the transaction six, eight, or even ten months in advance of the anticipated purchase from a cold-start. These pre-approvals are vital as they can usually reduce this approval time to less than 45 days (unless the customer is playing games). The custom in the industry is that once payment is made for the goods, the purchaser has only 90 days to perfect and consummate the shipment, so get as much pre-order approvals completed as possible (many companies have a deposit forfeiture policy if you do not get your export approval within 90 days, or double the regular approval cycle for ITAR 121.1 good for pre-approved entities).
Please call us if you have any questions, but generally, we will deal only with the actual end-user of the equipment, and will not deal with intermediaries, middle-men, or brokers. We always play it straight, we will not engage in export fraud, and we will have nothing to do with illegal arms shipments or trafficking. If you want to talk with a well recognized expert on these kinds of munitions and equipment, how to handle legitimate transaction, and avoid problems, then contact us, we can save you a lot of hassles.
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