What is SIGINT?

What is Signals Intelligence or SIGINT?

1 Answer
Can you answer this question?

- everything RF

Feb 20, 2022

SIGINT or Signal Intelligence is a process through which information is gathered by the interception of a wide range of signals. These signals can be those that originate from communications between people or can be other electronic signals not directly used in communication (electronic intelligence—ELINT). The collection and analysis of these intercepted signals can be used to provide intelligence information.

The term ‘SIGINT’ was coined by the U.S. Department of Defense and is essential to electronic warfare, espionage and other military strategic scenarios. Hence ‘intelligence’ in this context, is information that provides an organization or individual with support for making decisions and possibly gaining a strategic advantage. Intelligence agencies worldwide use SIGINT in both foreign and domestic data gathering. Information collected by a government’s SIGINT agencies can be given to various sections of the administration such as senior civilian and military officials. They then use the information to help protect troops, support allies, fight terrorism, combat international crime and narcotics, support diplomatic negotiations, and advance many other important national objectives.

Originally SIGINT mostly consisted of Communications Intelligence (COMINT) which is gathered through accessing the communications of individuals. Advancements in technology changed the way humans communicate entirely and also the speed and range of communication capability. Hence led to the formation of ELINT (electronic intelligence), which is gathered through the use of electronic sensors.

Other than COMINT and ELINT, SIGINT contains another sub-set called intelligence collection management which is the process of managing and organizing the vast amount of information that may be gathered. With technological innovation, most digital signals are being encrypted for added security, especially sensitive and classified information. Hence, SIGINT has expanded to also include cryptanalysis to decipher the messages. SIGINT may also include traffic analysis which is the study of who is signaling whom and in what quantity. All these disciplines have been useful to integrate information gathered by SIGINT and confirm the legitimacy of every bit of data.

Click here to learn more about ELINT (Electronic Intelligence).