The National Counterintelligence Strategy of the United

The National Counterintelligence Strategy of the United States


Protecting our Nation’s security and continuing to enhance the prosperity of our citizens are my top priorities. Ensuring that the United States is protected against espionage and other damaging intelligence activities conducted by our foreign adversaries is essential to meeting those goals.

The Nation faces an expanding array of foreign intelligence threats by adversaries who are using increasingly sophisticated methods to harm the United States. Russia remains a significant intelligence threat to United States interests – employing aggressive acts to instigate and exacerbate tensions and instability in the United States, including interfering with the security of our elections. A more powerful and emboldened China is increasingly asserting itself by stealing our technology and intellectual property to erode the United States’ economic and military superiority. Regional adversaries and ideologically motivated entities, such as hackers and public disclosure organizations, pose a growing threat to the United States. These actors are increasingly able to advance their goals due to the proliferation of more effective and commercially available cyber and surveillance technologies.


Threats to the United States posed by foreign intelligence entities1 are becoming more complex, diverse, and harmful to U.S. interests. Foreign intelligence actors—to include nation-states, organizations, and individuals—are employing innovative combinations of traditional spying, economic espionage, and supply chain and cyber operations to gain access to critical infrastructure,2 and steal sensitive information, research, technology, and industrial secrets. They are conducting malicious influence campaigns using cyber operations, media manipulation, covert operations, and political subversion to sow divisions in our society, undermine confidence in our democratic institutions, and weaken our alliances. Foreign threat actors have become more dangerous because, with ready access to advanced technology, they are threatening a broader range of targets at lower risk. In aggregate, three principal trends characterize the current and emerging counterintelligence3 environment:

The number of actors targeting the United States is growing. Russia and China operate globally, use all instruments of national power to target the United States, and have a broad range of sophisticated intelligence capabilities. Other state adversaries such as Cuba, Iran, and North Korea; non-state actors such as Lebanese Hizballah, ISIS, and al-Qa’ida; as well as, transnational criminal organizations and ideologically motivated entities such as hacktivists, activists, and public disclosure organizations, also pose significant threats. Additionally, foreign nationals with no formal ties to foreign intelligence services steal sensitive data and intellectual property.

Threat actors have an increasingly sophisticated set of intelligence capabilities at their disposal and are employing them in new ways to target the United States. The global availability of technologies with intelligence applications—such as biometric devices, unmanned systems, high-resolution imagery, enhanced technical surveillance equipment, advanced encryption, and big data analytics—and the unauthorized disclosures of U.S. cyber tools have enabled a wider range of actors to obtain sophisticated intelligence capabilities previously possessed only by well-financed intelligence services. These technologies have opened up new opportunities for adversaries to use information as a strategic resource in achieving their economic security aims, and exert leverage over their competitors.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *