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“How much do TSCM bug sweeps cost?”
The cost of a Technical Surveillance Countermeasures (TSCM) bug sweep will depend on the type and category of the inspection. There are basically two types of bug sweeps, Personal and Commercial.
Personal TSCM Costs
This category of TSCM bug sweeps cost less than Commercial TSCM inspections. This is mostly due to the lower level of complexity, expertise and instrumentation required to achieve the desired results. The going rate for an average sized home in the United States can range from $1,500 to $6,000 depending upon: location, square footage, type of audio-visual equipment, number of vehicles included, and the expertise of the TSCM specialist.
Tip: Even the largest estates usually have less than 3-5 thousand square feet of sensitive areas that require a detailed inspection. So, paying for more square footage is rarely necessary. Bonus: The radio-frequency / Wi-Fi analysis will cover the rest of the area by default anyway.
Commercial TSCM Costs
Professional commercial TSCM bug sweep costs are usually estimated on a custom basis. Items considered include:
- The square footage of sensitive areas which require a detailed physical inspection. If the inspection covers the whole office floor, do not use the square footage shown on the lease. Measure the sensitive areas individually. This will likely be about 30% less than what the lease states.
Tip: To save money, create a priority list of your most sensitive areas. Have your TSCM specialist work their way down the list. At some point you will be able to say, “If we don’t have a problem at this level we can stop.” If a problem is detected, you can always continue the search. Remember, the radio-frequency / Wi-Fi inspection will cover the other square footage by default.
Example of a TSCM Bug Sweep Floor Plan
- The number and type of communications items, within the sensitive areas (or within earshot of), requiring a detailed inspection. This would normally include: telephones, speakerphones, teleconferencing equipment, audio-visual racks of equipment, etc. Specify if you also want to have difficult to inspect items in the area X-rayed. Although this will cost extra, it only needs to be done once. X-rayed items are tagged with discrete, tamper-proof security seals to identify them as already inspected during future re-inspections.
- Are the rooms / areas contiguous (having shared walls).
- Travel expenses.
- Special TSCM Bug Sweep Situations
Inspection of: construction / renovation projects, data centers, off-site meeting locations, transportation vehicles, special events, etc.
Tip: Obtain a line-item written estimate in advance, and never accept a per-hour based fee. You won’t be able to control the cost.
From our experience, corporations budgeting between $30,000 and $50,000 per quarter are providing themselves with adequate, pro-active, TSCM coverage at their headquarters locations.
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Kevin D. Murray CPP, CISM, CFE, CDPSE is a business counterespionage consultant and TSCM specialist with over four decades of experience.
Murray Associates is an independent security consulting firm, providing eavesdropping detection and counterespionage services to business, government and at-risk individuals.
Headquartered in the New York metropolitan area, a Murray Associates team can assist you quickly, anywhere in the United States, and internationally.