Cover: SIGINT for Anyone

SIGINT for Anyone

The Growing Availability of Signals Intelligence in the Public Domain

Published Dec 5, 2017

by Cortney Weinbaum, Steven Berner, Bruce McClintock

Download Free Electronic Document

Full Document

FormatFile SizeNotes
PDF file 0.1 MB

Use Adobe Acrobat Reader version 10 or higher for the best experience.

استخبارات الإشارات (SIGINT) للجميع: التوفر المتنامي لاستخبارات الإشارات في المجال العام

Arabic language version

FormatFile SizeNotes
PDF file 0.3 MB

Use Adobe Acrobat Reader version 10 or higher for the best experience.

This Perspective examines and challenges the assumption that signals intelligence (SIGINT) is an inherently governmental function by revealing nongovernmental approaches and technologies that allow private citizens to conduct SIGINT activities. RAND researchers relied on publicly available information to identify SIGINT capabilities in the open market and to describe the intelligence value each capability provides to users. They explore the implications each capability might provide to the United States and allied governments.

The team explored four technology areas where nongovernmental SIGINT is flourishing: maritime domain awareness; radio frequency (RF) spectrum mapping; eavesdropping, jamming, and hijacking of satellite systems; and cyber surveillance. They then identified areas where further research and debate are needed to create legal, regulatory, policy, process, and human capital solutions to the challenges these new capabilities provide to government.

This was an exploratory effort, rather than a comprehensive research endeavor. The team relied on unclassified and publicly available materials to find examples of capabilities that challenge the government-only paradigm. They identified ways these capabilities and trends may affect the U.S. government in terms of emerging threats, policy implications, technology repercussions, human capital considerations, and financial effects. Finally, they identified areas for future study for U.S. and allied government leaders to respond to these changes.

This research was conducted within the Cyber and Intelligence Policy Center of the RAND National Defense Research Institute.

This commentary is part of the RAND expert insight series. RAND Expert Insights present perspectives on timely policy issues. All RAND Expert Insights undergo peer review to ensure high standards for quality and objectivity.

This document and trademark(s) contained herein are protected by law. This representation of RAND intellectual property is provided for noncommercial use only. Unauthorized posting of this publication online is prohibited; linking directly to this product page is encouraged. Permission is required from RAND to reproduce, or reuse in another form, any of its research documents for commercial purposes. For information on reprint and reuse permissions, please visit www.rand.org/pubs/permissions.

RAND is a nonprofit institution that helps improve policy and decisionmaking through research and analysis. RAND's publications do not necessarily reflect the opinions of its research clients and sponsors.