Friday, August 11, 2017

The Cuban "Acoustic Attack" - Eavesdropping, TSCM, or Other?

The FBI is reportedly investigating who was behind an “acoustic attack” that inflicted at least two staffers of the U.S. Embassy in Havana with sudden hearing loss. Washington expelled two Cuban diplomats earlier this year in response to the incident, the U.S. State Department said on Wednesday.

The Cuban foreign ministry said it was investigating the allegations.

Citing officials familiar with the investigation, The Associated Press reported on Wednesday that embassy staff in Havana began suffering from hearing loss in the fall of 2016. U.S. officials later concluded that a device operating outside the range of audible sound has been installed inside or near diplomatic residences in Havana. more

Media speculation as to what and who is rampant. 

Some what theories, which the media has missed, include: 
• An ultrasonic bugging device (an eavesdropping attack).
• An ultrasonic room flooding device (an eavesdropping countermeasure). 

If either of these were incompetently programmed–thus producing a higher than safe level of audio power output–people would experience hearing loss and other sickness symptoms (headache, nausea, disorientation, etc.).

As to who... A bugging device could be planted by anyone, not just the Cubans. An ultrasonic room flooding device would be placed by whoever has control of the room, in an effort to deter electronic eavesdropping attempts — mixing differing frequencies of ultrasound has a detrimental effect on microphones. This is a rarely used Technical Surveillance Countermeasures (TSCM) tactic due to the fine balance between effectiveness and dangerousness. It zaps hearing aids, too.

An "acoustic attack" just to cause intentional harm seems unlikely. The results of the investigation should be interesting, if they see the light of day. Ultra-unlikely. ~Kevin

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