A report was made by the FBI’s Counterintelligence Strategic Partnership Unit to “provide awareness to administrators, senior researchers, export control offices, and technology transfer offices at higher education institutions about how foreign intelligence services and non-state actors use US colleges and universities to further their intelligence and operational needs.”
They have decided to make the report open to the general public in an effort to spread awareness about counterintelligence risks and national security issues that stem from spies infiltrating American universities.
According to the the FBI’s website the open environment of US campuses of higher education may be misused to recruit individuals for espionage, exploit the visa program (foreigners on temporary visas make up more than 40 percent of graduate students in science and engineering at leading universities such as Massachusetts Institute of Technology), spread false information to achieve political agendas, get around spending money on research and development, and steal technical information or products.
The white paper went on to explain that spies are using a variety of methods to achieve their goals:
Conduct computer intrusions
Collect sensitive research
Utilize students or visiting professors to collect information
Spot and recruit students or professors
Send unsolicited email or invitations
Send spies for language and cultural training, and to establish credentials
Fund or establish programs at a university
The government does not want people to become overly reactive to international students and says that most of those students are here for legitimate reasons. However, several well-intentioned scholars are being pressured by their native governments to report information to intelligence officials, often using the promise of favors or threats to family members back home.
The FBI is most concerned about the following:
Keeping Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD) from falling into the wrong hands
Maintaining cyber security
Protecting the secrets of US Government agencies and US contractors
Protecting US critical assets
Keep US students and professors from being recruited by foreign intelligence services
Insuring the safety and integrity of higher education in the United States
Protecting intellectual property developed through US university research
Allowing researchers the opportunity to get first-to-market with their ideas
Insure campus safety and safety awareness of US students studying abroad
Secure personal and sensitive information (identity theft, fraud, stolen research, and so forth)
The following YouTube video covers the story of The Cambridge Five, a ring of spies, recruited in part by Russian talent spotter Arnold Deutsch in the United Kingdom who passed information to the Soviet Union during World War II and at least into the early 1950s.
They betrayed military, scientific, and political secrets which caused incalculable harm to Britain and the United States. They were the most damaging spy ring in the history of espionage and were in operation for over a decade.