Operations Security

Intelligence Threat Handbook

This is an unofficial publication of the U.S. Government. Contents are not necessarily the views of, or endorsed by, any Government agency.


This publication was prepared by Booz.Allen & Hamilton Inc. under contract to the Interagency OPSEC Support Staff (IOSS). Its purpose is to provide an unclassified reference handbook for OPSEC personnel and managers which explains the categories of intelligence threat, provides an overview of worldwide threats in each category, and identifies available resources for obtaining threat information.

OPSEC provides a risk management process whereby program, project, or facility managers can implement cost-effective measures to eliminate or protect indicators of critical classified or sensitive information and activities from adversary exploitation. To effectively apply the OPSEC process, the threat must be identified and understood. While there are other categories of threat that may be considered, most OPSEC activities center around the intelligence threat. This handbook was designed to provide a reference source to assist those who develop and implement OPSEC programs or activities in gaining an understanding of the scope of threats potentially affecting the success of their organizations.

Section 7 of this handbook provides a summary of sources for obtaining threat assessment information and OPSEC planning assistance.

This document is published and distributed by the Interagency OPSEC Support Staff (IOSS) to assist U.S. Government departments and agencies and their supporting contractors in establishing and maintaining their OPSEC programs. The information contained herein represents an official formulation, authoritative but not directive, offered by the IOSS to guide the practice of operations security within the Executive Branch.

The IOSS will consider for publication material written on any aspect of operations security (i.e., theoretical, practical, operational, managerial, or historical). If in the sole opinion of the IOSS, submitted material is acceptable as representing an official formulation to guide the practice of operations security within the Executive Branch, it will be published as such, giving due credit to the author(s). Other material will be considered for publication as a monograph, again giving due credit to the author(s).

Manuscripts may be submitted to the IOSS for publication consideration, along with a biographical sketch of the author(s). This sketch should include the current position (government department/agency, company or military assignment, rank and branch of service of military personnel, mailing address and telephone number). All manuscripts will be acknowledged upon receipt, and decision to accept or reject for publication will be made as quickly as possible. Manuscripts may be classified or unclassified; however, to reach the widest possible audience, it is preferred that they be unclassified. Responsibility for U.S. Government clearance of articles (when required) and clearance for copyrighted material remains with the contributor. Publication of the manuscript does not imply endorsement by the IOSS or any other U.S. Government department or agency, unless specifically stated, nor does it obligate the U.S. Government to sole-source procurement of goods or services. The IOSS does not provide an honorarium for contributors or authors. The IOSS reserves the right to edit all submitted material, and to use all published materials in support of the IOSS mission, including reprinting and distribution of the published material.

Please submit any comments or suggestions for improvement of the publication, and any manuscripts you wish to have considered for publication, to the address below. For additional information concerning IOSS publications, or for handling instructions for any material classified above SECRET, please write to the same address or telephone number listed below:


Interagency OPSEC Support Staff

6411 Ivy Lane, Suite 400

Greenbelt MD 20770-1405

(301) 982-0323 /(800) 688-6115