Careers in the FBI’s Counterintelligence Division

The Federal Bureau of Investigations considers foreign intelligence activities, including economic espionage, among the gravest threats to national security.  The theft of sensitive national security information by operatives of foreign governments remains a critical priority for the FBI’s Counterintelligence Division. Not only do these intrusions and thefts weaken the United States and make the country more vulnerable to attacks by other nations, but due to the poor security often found in these countries’ intelligence networks, terrorist organizations may more easily obtain insights into U.S. vulnerabilities.

From Technology Theft to Economic Espionage: The Scope of the FBI’s Counterintelligence Division

The issue of technological proliferation is also a high priority among FBI Special Agents with Counterintelligence Division jobs.  The potential for spies to gain access to weapons technology through espionage presents enormous challenges for U.S. counterintelligence agencies.  Should spies gain access to classified secrets through blackmail, digital intrusion or physical theft, that knowledge could be used to undermine American defenses.  The risk of U.S. personnel sharing secrets with foreign nations is also a credible threat to national security.  In the past few years, many of the most high profile espionage cases involved high-ranking intelligence officers who stole sensitive materials and shared them with other governments out of greed, vengeance or a misguided ideology.

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Economic espionage is also a serious issue that the Counterintelligence Division is committed to stamping out.  The FBI considers the theft or destruction of proprietary corporate data among the greatest threats to national security. Not only does the theft of certain technologies pose a direct threat to national security, but the overall economic impact of these activities causes billions of dollars in losses.  Because government sponsored security systems protect the government, and industries like defense, foreign intelligence operatives have shifted their activities to less secure industries like software development and pharmaceuticals.  The enemies of the United States have demonstrated their willingness to undermine the country by attacking its superiority in technological innovation and its economy.

These attacks on proprietary knowledge may materialize in a number of forms.  It may result in pirated consumer goods like fashion items, movies, books or software.  The loss of profits from pirated goods presents a significant challenge to many industries, and often weakens their competitiveness.  This curtails investment in intellectual property and threatens to destabilize these important industries.  In some cases, authentic goods produced at mandated safety and quality assurance standards are replaced by cheaper, less reliable products.  When pharmaceuticals, vehicle components and critical software are replaced, it can pose a serious risk to U.S. lives.

Counterespionage Jobs
The goal of the counterespionage division is to prevent the intrusion of foreign agents into secure U.S. facilities and information systems, as well as the distribution of classified materials to foreign governments, companies or terrorist organizations.  In order to accomplish this difficult function, the Counterespionage Section maintains a constant vigil on the facilities, IT systems and government personnel.  This section investigates all attempts of intrusion into secure operations, suspicious behavior, and tips gathered from intelligence sources.  Counterespionage also helps identify areas where security is underperforming and makes recommendations to remedy these vulnerabilities. Read more…

Counterproliferation Center Jobs
The FBI Counterproliferation Center is dedicated to preventing other nations, organizations and terrorist groups from acquiring technology related to Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD).  This requires constant awareness of weapon making equipment, knowledge, and personnel.  The Counterproliferation Center has a globe-spanning perspective that seeks to identify potential vulnerabilities in the global system of WMD materials and personnel which terrorists could exploit. To combat the spread of these materials and knowledge, the Counterproliferation Center monitors the status of stockpiles and personnel around the globe.  It also employs a pro-active approach to identify emerging areas of science that could be used to develop WMDs. Read more…

Counterintelligence Strategy and Domain Section Jobs
In order to maintain awareness of the latest developments throughout private enterprise, the FBI Counterintelligence Strategy and Domain Section was created to develop relationships with industry and academic leaders.  Although the Counterintelligence Division attempts to have comprehensive knowledge of all technological and scientific advances throughout the world, the pace of innovation is too fast for any single agency to maintain such current knowledge and respond accordingly to secure unsafe innovations.  In recognition of its own limited resources, the Counterintelligence Strategy and Domain Section partners with thought leaders within important disciplines who can share their insights and allow the Bureau to devote resources to only those breakthroughs that present credible threats. Read more…

Economic Espionage Unit Jobs
The Economic Espionage Unit is dedicated to protecting industries that develop and distribute proprietary materials.  Industries like movies, books, and software are especially susceptible to piracy and intellectual property violations.  While the general public may participate in these crimes by unknowingly purchasing stolen or pirated goods, most consumers do not realize that such activities weaken these culturally important industries and weaken America’s place as a global leader. Read more…

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