Do you think someone is 'listening in'?

Article Published:Nov 26

Do you want your office/boardroom/home 'swept' for 'bugs'?

This is how to choose the right TSCM (Technical Surveillance Counter Measures) service provider:

It is absolutely critical that appropriate due diligence is undertaken, prior to engaging a TSCM consulting firm. If a trusted referral is not the initial point of contact, then the following information should be clarified or enquiries made, prior to engagement:

1. Confirm that they own their own equipment (not borrowed or rented) and ask to see a demonstration prior to engaging them. An operator who claims to have the latest and greatest spectrum analysers that go to ’30 or 40 Gigahertz’, is misleading clients into the false belief that these high frequency capabilities are necessary, without advising of radio frequency propagation in a corporate environment and the impracticality of transmitting at that level. Likewise, an operative who only uses a near-field / broadband detector (such as a CPM-700) and little else, cannot conceivably undertake a genuine technical assessment. A full and regularly maintained suite of appropriate equipment is critical to ensuring an effective sweep service.

2. Ask about their professional background and work history. Have they always been involved in the security sector and in what capacity? Do they have Police or Military experience? Ask for a copy of their CV or BIO.

3.  Determine how many staff they have on-deck and their related skill-sets. In today’s world, it is foolish to try and undertake an extensive TSCM inspection single-handedly. Whilst possible, a single room could take several hours to inspect, without a team of professionals to assist. Multiple operatives enables each of them to specialise and therefore focus on their area of expertise. This is the most effective means by which to operate.

4.  Ask what training they’ve had and how often they update their skills. Don’t expect rocket scientists, but any professional TSCM operator will have undertaken specific TSCM training at an internationally recognised training facility, of which there are only two or three globally. Ask to see their certificates and verify them accordingly.

5.  Ask to see evidence of their professional memberships. Not just those of their company, but the individual operators themselves. A dedicated TSCM practitioner will be a member of several craft-specific institutes, such as London’s TSCMi ( Several such groups have comprehensive membership criteria requiring proof of experience. They usually also have a relevant ’Code of Practice’.

6. Make sure they provide you with a professional written quotation outlining their technical experience, equipment and processes. Verify their claims.

7.  Go with your first impression. Generally, experienced businesspeople get a sense of who is right or wrong for their business. As long as the above information has been established, the final decision rests with the individual hiring the service provider and whether they are comfortable having that person or their representatives roaming freely throughout their offices. Don’t hire someone you are not comfortable with, just to 'tick a box’. The provision of a TSCM service provider should be considered in the same manner you’d hire a lawyer or other professional in whom you are going to confide.


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