Targeting U.S. Technologies

Department of Defense (DoD) Instruction 5200.39, dated July 16, 2008, requires the Defense Security Service (DSS) to publish a classified report, along with an unclassified companion report, detailing suspicious activities occurring within the cleared contractor community. Accordingly, this report provides important information regarding foreign threats to cleared personnel, information, and technologies resident in the U.S. cleared defense industrial base.

DSS must provide these reports to the DoD Counterintelligence (CI) community, national entities, and the cleared contractor community to assist in general threat awareness, identify specific technologies at risk, and aid in the application of appropriate threat countermeasures. DSS receives and analyzes suspicious contact reports (SCRs) from cleared contractors in accordance with reporting requirements as defined in Chapter 1, Section 3 of the National Industrial Security Program Operating Manual, 5220.22-M, dated February 28, 2006. The analysis of these SCRs is the basis for this year’s trends report.

The information in this report covers the most prolific foreign collectors targeting the cleared contractor community during fiscal year 2009 (FY09) as compared to the previous year. It includes statistical and trends analysis on foreign collector affiliations, the methods foreign entities used to target the cleared contractor community, and the specific technology sectors that they targeted. Each section also contains an analytical assessment forecasting potential future activities against the cleared contractor community.

This year, information on the attempted acquisition of marine sensors technology within U.S. cleared industry is also included. This specific technology subset was selected based on the reporting DSS received and the assessment that it is a growing interest area for collection. The section provides a definition of marine sensors technology, analysis based on reporting from cleared industry, and the collector methodology.

This report is published as part of DSS’ ongoing effort to enhance awareness of foreign entities targeting the U.S. cleared industrial base and to encourage reporting of such incidents as they occur. It is also intended to be a ready reference tool for security professionals in their efforts to detect, deter, mitigate, and neutralize the effects of foreign targeting.


DSS provides statistical and trend analysis on the foreign collection threat posed to the cleared contractor community over the past fiscal year as compared to the previous fiscal year. This report is based primarily on SCRs collected from the cleared contractor community, but also includes references to all-source Intelligence Community (IC) reporting.

While DSS analyzes all SCRs received from industry, only those indicative of potential illicit foreign collection activities in FY09 were used to form the basis of this report. Through analytical processes and application of the DSS foreign intelligence threat assessment methodology, DSS determined over 40 percent of these reports either posed a potential intelligence concern to the cleared contractor community or represented a link to elements DSS determined as hostile to U.S. interests.

DSS analyzes foreign interest in U.S. defense technology in terms of the 20 categories in the Developing Science and Technologies List (DSTL). The DSTL is a compendium of science and technology capabilities being developed worldwide that have the potential to significantly enhance or degrade U.S. military capabilities in the future. It serves as a template for DSS to define categories and subcategories for each technology; identification of said technologies is a critical analytic objective.

As noted, DSS categorizes and culls SCRs to determine a nexus to a foreign-affiliated entity and if they present a threat to the cleared contractor community. DSS analysts scrutinize the SCRs by examining the critical U.S. technologies, the targeting entites, the methods of operation, the relationships to previous reporting from the cleared contractor community, and all-source IC information.


DSS adopted the IC estimative language standard for use in the trends analysis reports. The use of synonymous phraseology such as “we judge,” “we assess,” or “we estimate,” and terms such as “likely,” or “indicate,” represents an effort to convey an analytical assessment or judgment.

These assessments, based on incomplete or at times fragmentary information, are not facts or proof, nor do they represent empirically-based certainty or knowledge. Some analytical judgments are based directly on collected information, others rest on previous judgments, yet both serve as building blocks. In either type of judgment, the agency does not have “evidence” showing something to be a fact or that definitively links two items or issues.

Gradient Chart

Intelligence judgments pertaining to “likelihood” are intended to reflect the probability of a development, event, or trend. Assigning precise numerical ratings to such judgments would imply more rigor than the agency intends. The previous chart provides a rough idea of the relationship of terms to each other.

The authors do not intend the term “unlikely” to imply an event will not happen. The report includes “probably” and “likely” to indicate there is a greater than even chance. It includes words such as “we cannot dismiss,” “we cannot rule out,” and “we cannot discount” to reflect unlikely- or even remote- events whose consequences are such that it warrants mentioning.

Words such as “may” and “suggest” are used to reflect situations in which DSS is unable to assess the likelihood generally because relevant information is nonexistent, sketchy, or fragmented.

In addition to using words within a judgment to convey degrees of likelihood, DSS also ascribes analytic confidence levels based on the scope and quality of information supporting DSS judgments.

  • High Confidence: Judgments are based on high-quality information, or the nature of the issue makes it possible to render a solid judgment.

  • Moderate Confidence: Information can be interpreted in various ways, DSS has alternative views, or the information is credible and plausible but not corroborated sufficiently to warrant a higher level of confidence.

  • Low Confidence: Information is scant, questionable, or highly fragmented, making solid analytic inferences difficult, or that DSS has significant concerns or problems with the sources.

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