Targeting U.S. Technologies: A Security Assessment


The Defense Security Service (DSS) has released their newest report, “Targeting U.S. Technologies: A Trend Analysis of Reporting from Defense Industry.” This annual report provides DSS findings on foreign attempts to access and collect “sensitive or classified DoD information and technologies resident in cleared industry.” The DoD considers these illicit collection attempts a matter of national security as the collectors often seek out U.S. “intellectual property, trade secrets, and proprietary information,” while also “[jeopardizing] the lives of our warfighters” through the exploitation of information related to military systems.

The data in the report is based on the analysis of four main regions that are considered the greatest threat to U.S. intelligence security: East Asia and the Pacific, the Near East, South and Central Asia, and Europe and Eurasia. The report analyzes the clandestine intelligence collection levels of each of these regions based on three main criteria: collector affiliation, method of operation (MO), and targeted technologies.

According to the report’s key findings, East Asia and the Pacific was “the most prolific collector region” as it had an overall collection percentage of 43% – the highest of all the regions. Other key findings reported that collectors were most commonly affiliated with commercial entities, the majority of collectors’ MO were to seek information directly, “whether by attempted acquisition of technology or request for information (RFI),” and that information systems, lasers optics and sensors, aeronautics systems, and electronics remained the four most targeted technology categories from FY10.

Overall the report concluded that the illicit foreign collection of U.S intelligence “remained very consistent between fiscal year 2010 (FY2010) and FY11.”

The report also included a “Special Focus Area” on radiation hardening, a process that protects “microelectronics and electronic systems from the effects of ionizing radiation” that is usually encountered in outer space. This is important to the field of illicit intelligence collection as foreign collectors have become increasingly interested in obtaining information on the design, manufacture, and packaging of rad-hard microelectronics in order to support its affiliates’ potential outer space operations. These operations could include, “commercial telecommunications, increased command and control, and intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance (ISR).” DSS warns that these collectors will likely increase targeting at U.S. companies that design and manufacture rad-hard technology in the near future.

Article formerly posted at