Office of the Director of National Intelligence

U.S. National Counterintelligence Strategy 2016

NCSC-Counterintelligence Strategy2016

The National Counterintelligence Strategy of the United States of America 2016 (Strategy) was developed in accordance with the Counterintelligence Enhancement Act of 2002 (Pub.L. No. 107-306, 116 Stat. 2383 (as amended) codified at 50 U.S.C. sec. 3383(d)(2)). The Strategy sets forth how the United States (U.S.) Government will identify, detect, exploit, disrupt, and neutralize foreign intelligence entity (FIE) threats. It provides guidance for the counterintelligence (CI) programs and activities of the U.S. Government intended to mitigate such threats.

(U//FOUO) DHS-FBI-NCTC Bulletin: Terrorist Impersonation of First Responders Overseas


(U//FOUO) Two disrupted plots in Europe earlier this year highlight terrorists possible interest in impersonating first responders through the acquisition of authentic or fraudulent uniforms, equipment, vehicles, and other items which may be associated with government, military, law enforcement, fire,…

(U//FOUO) DHS-FBI-NCTC Bulletin: Risks for U.S. Persons Traveling to Fight ISIS


This Joint Intelligence Bulletin highlights the potential risks for US persons traveling to Syria or Iraq to combat the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) or expressing online a desire to do so. The FBI, DHS, and NCTC remain concerned that US persons traveling to combat ISIL are at risk of being killed, wounded, or captured. Further, ISIL members or supporters could attempt disingenuously to identify and target US persons so as to harm them before or upon their arrival in Syria or Iraq. The State Department has issued travel warnings for both Iraq and Syria and the US Government does not support US persons traveling overseas to combat ISIL.

(U//FOUO) DHS-FBI-NCTC Bulletin: ISIL Supporters Targeting Uniformed Personnel for Weapons and Equipment


In the first half of 2015 there were at least two instances of Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) inspired individuals in the West expressing interest in targeting law enforcement (LE) to obtain weapons and other specialized gear through theft. As ISIL continues to exhort its individuals in the West to carry out attacks, the potential exists that some terrorists may use this tactic and attempt to steal weapons or issued items, such as credentials, badges, uniforms, radios, ballistic vests, vehicles, and other equipment, which could be used in furtherance of an attack. We note that laws governing the purchase of firearms differ widely among Western nations making this tactic more likely to occur in countries where laws are most restrictive and firearms are harder to obtain through legitimate means.

DoD-DoJ-CIA-NSA-ODNI Inspectors General Report on the President’s Surveillance Program


A declassified report from 2009 compiled by the offices of the Inspectors General of the Department of Defense, Department of Justice, Central Intelligence Agency, National Security Agency and Office of the Director National Intelligence on the President’s Surveillance Program.

DHS Privacy and Civil Liberties Assessment Report on Executive Order 13636


Section 5 of Executive Order 13636 (Executive Order) requires the DHS Chief Privacy Officer and Officer for Civil Rights and Civil Liberties to assess the privacy and civil liberties impacts of the activities the Department of Homeland Security (DHS, or Department) undertakes pursuant to the Executive Order and to provide those assessments, together with recommendations for mitigating identified privacy risks, in an annual public report. In addition, the DHS Privacy Office and the Office for Civil Rights and Civil Liberties (CRCL) are charged with coordinating and compiling the Privacy and Civil Liberties assessments conducted by Privacy and Civil Liberties officials from other Executive Branch departments and agencies with reporting responsibilities under the Executive Order.

(U//FOUO) DHS-FBI-NCTC Bulletin: Terrorists Encouraging Use of Propane Cylinders as IEDs


Since the May 2010 publication of the Roll Call Release “Terrorist Use of Propane Cylinders,” terrorists have continued to advocate the use of propane cylinders in building improvised explosive devices (IEDs). Throughout 2014, al-Qa‘ida-inspired violent extremists posted on the Internet English-language instructions for building and using propane IEDs and encouraged attacks in the United States. The posts recommended military, commercial, and financial sector targets, major metropolitan areas, and mass gatherings.

National Counterintelligence Executive Unauthorized Disclosures of Classified Information Training Course


This course identifies and discusses employees’ responsibilities for safeguarding classified information against unauthorized disclosures. This course also outlines the criminal and administrative sanctions which can be imposed for an unauthorized disclosure. While there are multiple categories of unauthorized disclosures, this course will focus on unauthorized disclosures to the media due to the significance of the damage these leaks have caused to both the Intelligence Community (IC) and national security.

(U//FOUO) DHS-FBI-NCTC Bulletin: Malicious Cyber Actors Use Advanced Search Techniques


Malicious cyber actors are using advanced search techniques, referred to as “Google dorking,” to locate information that organizations may not have intended to be discoverable by the public or to find website vulnerabilities for use in subsequent cyber attacks. “Google dorking” has become the acknowledged term for this malicious activity, but it applies to any search engine with advanced search capabilities. By searching for specific file types and keywords, malicious cyber actors can locate information such as usernames and passwords, e-mail lists, sensitive documents, bank account details, and website vulnerabilities. For example, a simple “operator:keyword” syntax, such as “filetype:xls intext:username,” in the standard search box would retrieve Excel spreadsheets containing usernames. Additionally, freely available online tools can run automated scans using multiple dork queries.

(U//FOUO) DHS-FBI-NCTC Bulletin: Medical Treatment Presents Opportunity for Discovery of Violent Extremist Activities


Efforts to gain expertise with explosive, incendiary, and chemical/biological devices may lead to injuries and emergency treatment, which may provide potential indicators of violent extremist activities to responding emergency medical service (EMS) personnel. Scene size-up and patient assessment provide first responders the opportunity to view both the scene and any patient injuries. EMS personnel and other first responders should consider the totality of information gleaned through direct observation and the statements of patients, witnesses, and bystanders to evaluate whether an injury is a genuine accident or related to violent extremist activity.

National Counterterrorism Center Flyer: College Drone Programs Can Be Targeted by Violent Extremists


College programs in unmanned aircraft systems (UAS) are susceptible to potential penetration or attack plotting by violent extremists. Enhanced information and operational security practices can reduce the likelihood of a violent extremist infiltrating UAS programs or planning an attack against students and faculty. There are potential indicators that a student or faculty member may possess ulterior motives for their interest in unmanned aircraft.

(U//FOUO) DHS-FBI-NCTC Bulletin: Terrorists Continued Interest in Targeting Mass Transit


Terrorists in late December 2013 conducted three attacks targeting people using public transportation systems in Russia, emphasizing terrorists’ persistent interest in attacking locations where large congregations of people are confined to small, often enclosed spaces. Russian officials claim North Caucasus-based violent extremists associated with the Imirat Kavkaz (IK) probably conducted these attacks to embarrass the Russian government in the build-up to the 2014 Olympic Games in Sochi. The IK, a violent extremist group based in Russia, has no known capability in the Homeland and is unlikely to directly target Western interests overseas.

National Counterterrorism Center Enhanced Safeguards Decision Matrix


The DNI, D/NCTC and the Attorney General approved revised Attorney General Guidelines for NCTC’s handling of US Person (USP) information in March 2012. These revised NCTC Attorney General Guidelines (“NCTC’s AGGs”) govern NCTC’s access, retention, use, and dissemination of datasets identified as including non-terrorism information and information pertaining exclusively to domestic terrorism, and provide NCTC with the authority to retain USP information for up to five years (unless a shorter period is required by law, executive order, regulation, international agreement, etc.). During this temporary retention and assessment period, additional safeguards and protections are applied to this data, to include baseline (and potentially enhanced) safeguards, as well as additional compliance, auditing, reporting and oversight mechanisms.

Intelligence Community Inspector General Report on Boston Marathon Bombings


On April 15, 2013, two pressure cooker bombs placed near the finish line of the Boston Marathon detonated within seconds of each other, killing three and injuring more than two hundred people. Law enforcement officials identified brothers Tamerlan and Dzhokhar Tsarnaev as primary suspects in the bombings. After an extensive search for the then-unidentified suspects, law enforcement officials encountered Tamerlan and Dzhokhar Tsarnaev in Watertown, Massachusetts. Tamerlan Tsarnaev was shot during the encounter and was pronounced dead shortly thereafter. Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, who fled the scene, was apprehended the following day and remains in federal custody.

(U//FOUO) DHS-FBI-NCTC Bulletin: Fake Help Desk Scams an Ongoing Problem


Law enforcement continues to see reporting of malicious cyber actors using fake help desk scams, also known as technical support scams. These scams, if successful, seek to compromise and take control of computer systems. Malicious cyber actors send users an e-mail or they make cold calls, purportedly representing a help desk from a legitimate software or hardware vendor. The malicious cyber actors try to trick users into believing that their computer is malfunctioning—often by having them look at a system log that typically shows scores of harmless or low-level errors—then convincing them to download software or let the “technician” remotely access the personal computer to “repair” it.

(U//FOUO) DHS-FBI-NCTC Bulletin: Building Security Measures May Hinder Emergency Response Efforts


Facility security measures, such as interior control points or exterior barriers, may require first responders to adjust normal protocols and procedures to operate rapidly during emergencies. The timeline below is an overview of attacks and plots against US-based facilities with varying levels of security. The diversity of tactics and targets used underscores the need for interagency exercises and training that incorporates multiple scenarios to account for building security measures likely to be encountered.

(U//FOUO) DHS-FBI-NCTC Bulletin: Extortion Schemes Use Telephony-Based Denial-of-Service Attacks


Since at least January 2012, criminals are using telephony-based denial-of-service (TDoS) combined with extortion scams to phone an employee’s office and demand the employee repay an alleged loan. If the victim does not comply, the criminals initiate TDoS attacks against the employer’s phone numbers. TDoS uses automated calling programs—similar to those used by telemarketers—to prevent victims from making or receiving calls.

(U//FOUO) Open Source Center Master Narratives Country Report: Afghanistan

Understanding master narratives can be the difference between analytic anticipation and unwanted surprise, as well as the difference between communications successes and messaging gaffes. Master narratives are the historically grounded stories that reflect a community’s identity and experiences, or explain its hopes, aspirations, and concerns. These narratives help groups understand who they are and where they come from, and how to make sense of unfolding developments around them. As they do in all countries, effective communicators in Afghanistan invoke master narratives in order to move audiences in a preferred direction. Afghan influencers rely on their native familiarity with these master narratives to use them effectively. This task is considerably more challenging for US communicators and analysts because they must place themselves in the mindset of foreign audiences who believe stories that — from an American vantage point — may appear surprising, conspiratorial, or even outlandish.

(U//FOUO) National Counterterrorism Center Report: Common Misconceptions About Homeland Plotting

A facilitated brainstorming session was convened to identify and examine the most common misconceptions about conventional Homeland plotting. These misconceptions stemmed from inquiries received from Federal, state, local, tribal, and private-sector consumers and from articles published by outside experts and in the media. Analysts identified the following six misconceptions as the most common and compared them with current analytic lines.

(U//FOUO) National Counterterrorism Center: Urban Exploration Offers Insight on Infrastructure Vulnerabilities

Urban Explorers (UE)—hobbyists who seek illicit access to transportation and industrial facilities in urban areas—frequently post photographs, video footage, and diagrams on line that could be used by terrorists to remotely identify and surveil potential targets. Advanced navigation and mapping technologies, including three dimensional modeling and geo-tagging, could aid terrorists in pinpointing locations in dense urban environments. Any suspicious UE activity should be reported to the nearest State and Major Area Fusion Center and to the local FBI Joint Terrorism Task Force.

National Counterintelligence Executive Specifications for Constructing Sensitive Compartmented Information Facilities

This Intelligence Community (IC) Technical Specification sets forth the physical and technical security specifications and best practices for meeting standards of Intelligence Community Standard (ICS) 705-1 (Physical and Technical Standards for Sensitive Compartmented Information Facilities). When the technical specifications herein are applied to new construction and renovations of Sensitive Compartmented Information Facilities (SCIFs), they shall satisfy the standards outlined in ICS 705-1 to enable uniform and reciprocal use across all IC elements and to assure information sharing to the greatest extent possible. This document is the implementing specification for Intelligence Community Directive (ICD) 705, Physical and Technical Security Standards for Sensitive Compartmented Information Facilities (ICS-705-1) and Standards for Accreditation and Reciprocal Use of Sensitive Compartmented Information Facilities (ICS-705-2) and supersedes Director of Central Intelligence Directive (DCID) 6/9.

(U//FOUO) National Counterterrorism Center Special Report: IED Targeting of First Response Personnel

Although most terrorist IED attacks outside war zones target civilians or symbols of authority and usually involve a single device, some are designed specifically to target emergency response personnel. The most common tactics involve using secondary or tertiary devices in tiered or sequential attacks intended to kill or maim response personnel after they arrive on the scene of an initial IED incident.