Economic & Industrial Espionage

Industrial Espionage

Economic & Industrial Espionage


Recently, investigative reporter Wesley Bruer reported on an FBI briefing held in July, 2015 at their Washington headquarters where the head of the agency’s Counterintelligence Division, Randall Coleman spoke of the alarming increase in economic espionage.  By mid 2015, the FBI had seen an increase of 53% in economic and Industrial Espionage attacks on American companies amounting to losses in excess of $445 billion dollars in 2014 alone.  Global corporate entities such as Lockheed Martin and Dupont are just a tiny fraction of the companies that have been victimized and now work diligently with the bureau to safeguard their intellectual property and ultimately protect their shareholders.

Economic espionage is where a trade secret is stolen for the benefit of a foreign government, instrumentality or agent.  Industrial espionage is where someone steals or misappropriates a trade secret for the benefit of anyone other than the owner.  The mechanism for the theft typically involves technical surveillance by illegally placed audio or video eavesdropping devices.

A survey conducted by the FBI found that one half of the 165 private companies that participated claimed to be victims of Industrial Espionage or trade secret theft, and 95% of those were traced to individuals with ties to the Chinese Government.  Our government is extremely troubled by this because “economic security is national security”.

How do they do it?  First, the typical first step in Industrial Espionage is to bribe existing employees with huge sums of cash.  If the bribe is successful, their insider can place numerous types of covert audio and video recording devices than can only be discovered by experienced Technical Surveillance Counter Measures (TSCM) specialists with laboratory grade electronic detection equipment.  The equipment necessary is extremely expensive and very complex so very few non government companies have the resources and training to operate them.  At Top Gun Investigations, we have the equipment and hundreds of hours of training and practical experience to find technical surveillance eavesdropping devices that can be as small as a dime and hidden in walls, decorative objects, lamps, baseboards, ceilings, etc.

At the root of both economic and Industrial Espionage is the implementation of illegal covert audio and video recording devices, “bugs”.  They can be placed by a company insider, a member of the night time custodial crew, maintenance, phone, HVAC or other equipment repair personnel.  Many electronic eavesdropping devices can be purchased on the internet from many companies, mostly in China, for a few dollars.  Most of the Chinese products however prove to be of poor quality and and do not have the power necessary to transmit a signal more than a hundred feet or so.  This makes them extremely limited in their effectiveness.

Below are just a few samples of the covert bugs that are used to gain confidential information in corporate offices, break rooms, conference rooms, board rooms, and in personal homes.  They can be assembled at home for just a couple of dollars with items from your local electronic supply store.


Carrier Current Transceiver                        Parasitic Transceiver                            Transceiver in Smoke Alarm


These bugs can be easily and efficiently placed in moments and depending on the power source can have a transmission range of 100 – 1000 meters to a listening station or recording device placed in the trunk of a car in the parking lot.  This illegal intrusion is not James Bond 007 theory…it is real and it is happening every day all across America.  It is used with alarming frequency to illegally gain confidential secrets from both businesses and individuals.  In fact, Top Gun Investigations TSCM team recently found 6 covert audio/visual devices placed in the home of a divorcing couple by the soon to be ex-wife.

At Top Gun Investigations, we first perform a comprehensive security analysis of the property to assess any areas of vulnerability for Industrial Espionage.  This includes evaluating all areas of ingress, and egress, locks, doors, alarms, fence lines, perimeter and interior video cameras, telephone systems, network, and computer security. and even dumpsters for discarded prototypes or documents that should have been shredded.

Technical Surveillance Counter Measures (TSCM) includes all countermeasures to detect and prevent the interception of sensitive, confidential information.  The search is designed to locate illegal covert eavesdropping devices (bugs), wiretaps, technical security weakness, and technical security hazards used for Industrial Espionage.  A TSCM specialist will also evaluate for weaknesses of all locks, alarms, and other systems of physical and electronic security or controls.

We typically perform full TSCM sweeps for attorneys, corporate executives, celebrities and a variety of businesses to combat Industrial Espionage.  Every wire in a suspected area is surveyed for any type of covert carrier current (parasitic) audio or video device and special equipment is used to search for covert devices transmitting on the airwaves. A comprehensive, detailed physical search is the cornerstone of any TSCM sweep.  The normal process is to conduct the Radio Frequency (RF) search, than the wire and conductor check, followed by a detailed physical search.


At Top Gun Investigations, our Cyber/TSCM security professionals are experienced in developing and implementing measures to detect and safe guard against technical surveillance devices and cyber intrusion used in Industrial Espionage including:

  • Eavesdropping Devices
  • Defamation
  • Gray Market Sales
  • Branding Theft
  • Computer Intrusion/Hacking
  • Trade Secret Theft
  • Smart Phone Intrusion/Hacking
  • Website Intrusion/Hacking
  • E-mail intrusion/Hacking
  • Computer Server Intrusion/Hacking


Top Gun technicians are experienced operatives and provide technical security and cyber intrusion detection in numerous countries.  Top Gun Investigations in Tampa can provide you the answers you need, and the peace of mind you deserve.  Call 813-902-0420 for a free, confidential case evaluation. Because, what you don’t know…CAN hurt you!