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 detailing suspicious contacts occurring within the cleared contractor community. DSS focuses on indications of threats to compromise or exploit cleared personnel, or to obtain illegal or unauthorized access to sensitive or classified information or technologies resident in the U.S. cleared industrial base. DSS also releases this unclassified version of the report.

The instruction requires DSS to provide these reports to the DoD Counterintelligence (CI) community, national entities, and the cleared contractor community. DSS seeks to assist in raising general threat awareness, identifying specific technologies at risk, and applying appropriate countermeasures. DSS receives and analyzes suspicious contact reports (SCRs) from cleared contractors in accordance with reporting requirements 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 forms the basis for this year’s report.

The information in this report covers the most prolific foreign collectors targeting the cleared contractor community during fiscal year 2010 (FY10) as compared to the previous fiscal year. The report covers statistical and trend analysis on foreign collector affiliations, the methods foreign entities used to target the cleared contractor community, and the specific technology sectors targeted. Each section also contains a forecast of potential future activities against the cleared contractor community, based on analytical assessments.

DSS publishes Targeting U.S. Technologies: A Trend Analysis of Reporting from Defense Industry as part of its 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. DSS intends the report to be a ready reference tool for security professionals in their efforts to detect, deter, mitigate, or neutralize the effects of foreign targeting.

This year, the report also highlights foreign attempts at acquiring autonomous underwater vehicle (AUV) technology from U.S. cleared industry. DSS selected this specific technology subset because reports and analysis indicate it is a growing collection area. The section provides a definition of AUV technology and analysis on reporting from cleared industry, including collector methodology.

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DSS provides statistical and trend analysis on the foreign entity threat posed to the cleared contractor community over the past fiscal year as compared to the previous year. DSS bases this report primarily on SCRs collected from the cleared contractor community, but also relies on some all-source Intelligence Community (IC) reporting.

DSS now analyzes foreign interest in U.S. defense technology in terms of the 20 categories in the Militarily Critical Technologies List (MCTL), instead of the Developing Science and Technology List used previously. The MCTL is a compendium of those science and technology capabilities existing or under development worldwide that may significantly enhance or degrade U.S. military capabilities now or in the future. It provides categories and subcategories for DSS to use in identifying and defining targeted technologies.

In addition, this publication makes occasional reference to the Department of Commerce's Entity List. This listing provides public notice that certain exports, re-exports, and transfers (in-country) to entities included on the Entity List require a license from the Bureau of Industry and Security. An End-User Review committee (ERC) reviews and makes changes to the list annually. The ERC includes representatives from the Departments of Commerce, Defense, Energy, and State, and, when appropriate, Treasury.

DSS analysts scrutinize each SCR, examining the critical U.S. technology, the targeting entity, the method of operation, the relationships to previous reporting from the cleared contractor community, and all-source IC information.

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DSS uses the IC estimative language standard. The language used—phrases such as “we judge,” “we assess,” or “we estimate,” and terms such as “likely” or “indicate”— represents DSS's effort to convey a particular analytical assessment or judgment.

Because DSS bases these assessments on incomplete and at times fragmentary information, they do not constitute facts nor provide proof; they do not represent empirically based certainty or knowledge. Some analytical judgments are based directly on collected information; others rest on previous judgments, both of which serve as building blocks. In either type of judgment, the agency may not have evidence showing something to be a fact or that definitively links two items or issues.

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

Gradient Chart

The report uses “probably” and “likely” to indicate that there is a greater than even chance of an event happening. It uses phrases such as “we cannot dismiss,” “we cannot rule out,” and “we cannot discount” in cases when events are unlikely or even remote, but their consequences would be such that they warrant mentioning. Even when the authors use the terms “remote” and “unlikely,” they do not intend to imply that an event will not happen.

DSS uses words such as “may” and “suggest” to reflect situations in which DSS is unable to assess the likelihood of an event at all, generally because relevant information is sketchy, fragmented, or nonexistent.

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

High Confidence

  • Well-corroborated information from proven sources, minimal assumptions, and/or strong logical inferences.
  • Generally indicates that DSS based judgments on high-quality information, and/or that the nature of the issue makes it possible to render a solid judgment.

Moderate Confidence

  • Partially corroborated information from good sources, several assumptions, and/or a mix of strong and weak inferences.
  • Generally means that the information is credibly sourced and plausible but not of sufficient quality or corroborated sufficiently to warrant a higher level of confidence.

Low Confidence

  • Uncorroborated information from good or marginal sources, many assumptions, and/or mostly weak inferences.
  • Generally means that the information's credibility or plausibility is questionable, or that the information is too fragmented or poorly corroborated to make solid analytic inferences, or that we have significant concerns or problems with the sources.

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