Espionage and Counterespionage

Espionage is the clandestine theft of information that may be damaging to national security, jeopardize economic well-being or harm international relations. These secretive activities have been around for millennia.

Spies are recruited through a variety of methods, including 심부름센터 appealing to patriotism, religion, ego or greed. They are typically armed with a handler who cultivates trust and passes information back to their case officer.

Intelligence Gathering

Intelligence gathering involves collecting information about foreign countries, organizations and individuals for the purpose of making more informed decisions. It is a vital tool of diplomacy, military and national security policy. Intelligence can inform the decision to use force or not, help predict possible outcomes of proposed policies and identify terrorist threats and other criminal activities before they are carried out.

While the exploits of cloak-and-dagger secret agents remain popular in fiction, most intelligence work is undramatic and performed by university-trained research analysts in quiet offices. The largest part of intelligence systems’ input comes from open sources, such as radio broadcasts, publications and other information collected by manned surveillance satellites and unmanned aerial vehicles equipped with long-range cameras, spectrometers and acoustic detectors.

The lessons learned during World War I and technological advances in electronics and aircraft technology spurred the growth of many new intelligence agencies worldwide. By the end of the Cold War nearly every major country had established large, interlocking spy bureaucracies, including the United States’ CIA and its British counterpart MI5, France’s SDECE and MI6, Russia’s KGB and Soviet equivalents, China’s MSS, and Israel’s Mossad.

HUMINT (Human Intelligence) refers to information gathered via human sources, and it is distinguished from other types of intelligence-gathering techniques such as signals intelligence (SIGINT) and imagery intelligence (IMINT). In the past clandestine HUMINT operations included both recruited agents and “soldiers” who volunteered their services and foreign nationals who infiltrated government organizations under a cover story.


Counterespionage involves activities that attempt to prevent espionage, sabotage or assassinations. It is usually a part of intelligence services, although some countries have separate agencies for it. The FBI in the United States, for example, has divisions focused on counterintelligence and domestic surveillance.

In addition to gathering information, spies must also share it with other agents. This is done through a system known as covert communication or COVCOM. Examples of these methods include secret writing, microdots, and the transmission of messages between case officers through remote locations using specialized electronic devices.

To ensure that they are not discovered, spies cannot meet face to face. They must instead pass information through secure systems or a network of intermediaries. These systems can be as simple as commercial telephones or general Internet connections, or they can be specialized and more difficult to monitor.

Spy operations are often conducted for the benefit of terrorist groups, drug cartels or insurgents. They can be based in the country where they operate or be carried out by individuals from that area. During the Cold War, many of these spying operations involved Russia, China and Iran. More recently, the focus has been on the threat of economic terrorism and theft of trade secrets. These operations are usually targeted against defense-related and high tech industries, but any industry with proprietary products or ideas is at risk of being illegally stolen by foreign agents.


There are many ways to collect information, but espionage is a specialized kind. Spies are recruited from a variety of backgrounds, but the basic requirements are that they not be in trouble with the law, be ready to travel and pass security clearance. The recruitment process is rigorous and may involve several rounds of interviews, tests and extensive background checks. The intelligence agencies will also look at the applicant’s character and reliability. The application process can take anywhere from 6 months to 2 years.

Spies will be trained to gather information and report it back to their controllers. They will usually work in a team, and they must be able to communicate with each other in secret without the possibility of being overheard or tailed by the target country’s spy services. This is known as compartmentalization.

Depending on the goal of the espionage, different techniques can be employed. Industrial espionage, for example, involves taking trade secrets from a company to give to a competitor. This is a criminal offense in many countries.

Political espionage involves gathering information to give to a foreign government. It is a crime in most countries, but it can be difficult to prove. Military and intelligence agencies can hire contractors, such as hackers, to get this kind of information. Economic espionage is also very common, and this can be a source of great wealth for nations.

Covert Operations

The goal of covert operations, as defined by the Department of Defense Dictionary of Military and Associated Terms (Joint Publication JP1-02), is to fulfill mission objectives without anyone knowing who sponsored or carried out the operation. In this way, covert operations differ from clandestine operations, which are more traditional forms of espionage.

Non-violent covert operations tend to be based on the use of ‘agents of influence’, persons who can exert either direct or indirect control over government in a target country, or on its public opinion. These can be taskable agents of the attacking power, or more often – and with greater ‘plausible deniability’ – influential apologists duped into propagandising for the attacker through what Lenin purportedly called “sophisticated propaganda.”

Covert operations are usually carried out by intelligence agencies, but they also can be undertaken by other states or private groups acting in their name. These organizations may be openly declared as representatives of their home countries in their host nation, or they may operate under non-official cover such as trade delegates, journalists or students, to conceal their true identity and the fact that they are agents of an intelligence agency.

Covert operations may be a lot more amenable to measuring their efficacy than their more conventional espionage counterparts, but success still requires clear articulation of what the objectives are and whether they have been achieved. Otherwise, the dangers of ambiguity are very great.