Counterintelligence and Counterespionage


Counterintelligence (CI) is an essential discipline within the national security and intelligence spheres. It encompasses three overlapping activities: identifying evidence of subversive activity; investigating that evidence; and analysing it.


CI analysis supports the accomplishment of the following objectives:


In counterintelligence, detection is one of the three overlapping phases of a counterintelligence operation. It involves identifying potential threats to an organisation and developing the means to identify them. It includes both physical and technological techniques to protect sensitive information from prying eyes. This includes technical surveillance aligned to the collection disciplines (HUMINT, SIGINT, OSINT). It also incorporates deception. This can include creating doubles and penetrating agents as well as the use of misdirection to confuse the adversary.

Detection is important to both the defensive and offensive aspects of counterintelligence, but many organisations neglect it. Among the most common errors are failing to ensure personnel receive adequate training in OPSEC and organisational procedures; failure to report suspicious behaviour, particularly if it involves an adversary; and complacency. These mistakes can result in an unintended loss of vital intelligence or the inadvertent exposure of information to adversaries, as was the case with Peter Wright, the author of Spycatcher.

Although it is often associated with intelligence agencies, government entities and the military, businesses benefit from including CI in their security measures as well. For example, Ford Motor Company uses CI to prevent cameras from accurately recording its cars as they are driven on public roads. This protects the car’s prototypes and allows for testing to continue without compromising the vehicle design or the company’s confidential manufacturing information.


In the counterespionage arena, reconnaissance is the first step in identifying an adversary’s intelligence collection infrastructure and the people who are involved. It includes the observing and monitoring of targets in the operational area (OA), collecting imagery intelligence through photogrammetry and terrain analysis, as well as conducting controlled collection operations.

Reconnaissance can also be used to deceive the enemy by utilizing tactical deception. This 광주흥신소 can include creating dummy buildings and structures, placing soldiers in positions of strategic importance to create the impression that an enemy is moving, or using a variety of electronic signals and techniques to disrupt communications and target surveillance. One of the most famous examples of this is the 23rd Headquarters Special Troops, a group of artists, carpenters and magicians known as the Ghost Army who deceived enemy aircraft during World War II (Kneece, 2001).

Counterintelligence activities can be divided into general defensive counterintelligence, which focuses on thwarting hostile intelligence services and sabotage efforts; security intelligence, which provides information on the capabilities and intentions of those hostile intelligence services or individuals; and offensive counterintelligence, which exploits human sources. Some services have separate defensive and offensive counterintelligence divisions, while others have both grouped under the same structure, such as the Canadian Security Intelligence Service.

CI support is critical to the success of any CI operation. CI personnel work closely with MP and law enforcement personnel, and they should keep these agencies posted on persons of interest. CI support may be provided formally through staff elements, or more informally through liaison-type arrangements.


Counterintelligence (CI) is information gathered and activities conducted to protect against espionage, sabotage or assassinations undertaken by, for or on behalf of foreign powers, organizations or persons. Some countries will have dedicated intelligence agencies, including counterintelligence services such as the CIA and MI6, while others will incorporate counterintelligence into their police and internal security structures.

It is important to note that counterintelligence has a very close relationship with the collection disciplines of HUMINT, SIGNIT and OSINT. In fact, some people use the terms counterespionage and counterintelligence interchangeably, but they are very different practices. Offensive counterintelligence attempts to disrupt the operations of an FIS or terrorist organization by manipulating their human sources, while defensive counterintelligence seeks to protect information and personnel.

Cyber counterintelligence is a growing subelement of CI, but it’s not widely adopted by non-state actors due to the high cost and potential for legal problems. This is likely because most of the actions required by cyber counterintelligence dance on the line between permissible and illegal, as well as requiring significant technical and procedural know-how.

To mitigate this risk, CI specialists must educate their workforces on the threats posed by adversaries and how to avoid them. This includes adherence to organisational OPSEC, training on how to recognize red flags and reporting any suspicious activity. It also means educating workers on how to protect themselves from malware and coding errors that can leave digital fingerprints that can link an attack to the perpetrator.


For any intelligence agency or national security organization, counterintelligence must be considered an important part of the overall information gathering process. As with any collection discipline, counterintelligence requires its own set of tools. Some of these tools may be invasive or may dance on the edge of legality, but they must be used to gather the information needed to protect a force, station, facility or project from espionage and terrorist attacks.

A key component of counterintelligence is recognizing the signs that indicate someone is spying for an adversary or trying to steal a trade secret. While this may sound obvious, it is often overlooked. Unplanned life circumstances, tragedies or even ideological shifts can all make a person susceptible to be recruited by an enemy double agent. For this reason, basic counterintelligence training stresses situational awareness and attention to detail in the workplace.

The counterintelligence profession must also be able to take action against its own agents who are discovered as being involved in espionage or terrorism. This is known as defensive counterintelligence, and it is accomplished by at least neutralizing these individuals by arresting them or, in the case of diplomats, declaring them persona non grata. Alternatively, counterintelligence can attempt to degrade the effectiveness of an adversary’s intelligence service or terrorist group by exploiting its own human sources.