• uconn
Page content relevant to:

Academic Solicitation

What Is Academic Solicitation?

Academic Solicitation is the use of students, professors, scientists, or researchers as collectors improperly attempting to obtain sensitive information. Placing academics at, and requesting to collaborate with, U.S. research institutions under the guise of legitimate research in order to access developing technologies and cutting-edge research. These attempts can include requests for, or arrangement of, peer or scientific board reviews of academic papers or presentations; requests to study or consult with faculty members; and requests for and access to software and dual-use technology. Academic solicitation can also occur when a faculty member, student, employee, or visiting scholar seeks access to this same information. The number of foreign academics requesting to work with classified programs continues to rise, and the academic community will likely remain a top target for the foreseeable future. Although most academic contacts are likely legitimate, some foreign academics may ultimately take advantage of their placement and access to further their country’s research and development goals. 


Who Is Being Targeting? 

  • Researchers, scientists, and subject matter experts conducting research/ projects on behalf of a U.S. Government customer 
  • Researchers, scientists, and subject matter experts employed at academic institutions or with published in scientific or technical journals or presented at conferences
  • Students, professors, and researchers with access to research and technical information (especially graduate and post-doctorate students) 
  • Researchers, scientists, and subject matter experts working on cutting-edge technology 
  • Subject matter experts teaching technical courses


What To Report  

Any contact (i.e., emails, telephone, personal contact) that is suspicious because of the manner or subject matter of the request. This may include requests from U.S. persons or from foreign nationals located in the United States or abroad, and may consist of:  

  • Unsolicited applications or requests for undergraduate, graduate, postgraduate, or other research positions 
  • Unsolicited requests for access to research papers or other research-related publications or documents 
  • Unsolicited requests for assistance with or review of thesis papers, draft publications, or other research related documents 
  • Unsolicited invitations to attend and/or present at international conferences
  • Unsolicited grants or gifting of funds/equipment to conduct joint research projects from foreign academic institutions or foreign governments

 Contact the UConn Research Security Office at researchsecurity@uconn.edu with any concerns or questions.  If you suspect academic solicitation is taking place you can also file an anonymous report at compliance.uconn.edu. 


Economic Espionage

Economic espionage is foreign power-sponsored or coordinated intelligence activity directed at the U.S. government or U.S. corporations, establishments, or persons, designed to unlawfully or clandestinely influence sensitive economic policy decisions or to unlawfully obtain sensitive financial, trade, or economic policy information; proprietary economic information; or critical technologies. This theft, through open and clandestine methods, can provide foreign entities with vital proprietary economic information at a fraction of the true cost of its research and development, causing significant economic losses. 

 Our Nation’s secrets are in jeopardy, the same secrets that make your company profitable. The FBI estimates billions of US dollars are lost to foreign competitors every year. These foreign competitors deliberately target economic intelligence in advanced technologies and flourishing US industries.  

Foreign competitors operate under three categories to create an elaborate network of spies: 

  • Aggressively target present and former foreign nationals working for US companies and research institutions;
  • Recruit and perform technical operations to include bribery, discreet theft, dumpster diving (in search of discarded trade secrets) and wiretapping; and,
  • Establish seemingly innocent business relationships between foreign companies and US industries to gather economic intelligence including proprietary information.

 What Are Trade Secrets? 

Trade secrets are all forms and types of financial, business, scientific, technical, economic or engineering information, including patterns, plans, compilations, program devices, formulas, designs, prototypes, methods, techniques, processes, procedures, programs, or codes, whether tangible or intangible, and whether or how stored, complied, or memorialized physically, electronically, graphically, photographically or in writing, (1) which the owner has taken reasonable measures to protect; and (2) which have an independent economic value from not being generally known to the public.  

Commonly referred to as proprietary information, economic policy information, trade information, proprietary technology, or critical technology. 

 What Are Some Methods Of Targeting Or Acquiring Trade Secrets? 

  • Steal, conceal, or carry away by fraud, artifice, or deception;
  • Copy, duplicate, sketch, draw, photograph, download, upload, alter, destroy, photocopy, replicate, transmit, deliver, send, mail, communicate, or convey; and,
  • Receive, buy, or possess a trade secret, knowing the same to have been stolen or appropriated, obtained, or converted without authorization.

 Know The Signs 

  • Working odd hours without authorization 
  • Taking proprietary information home without authorization
  • Unnecessarily copying material 
  • Disregarding company policies on personal software and hardware 
  • Accessing restricted websites
  • Downloading confidential material 
  • Conducting unauthorized research

Personal Behaviors 

  • Unexplained short trips to foreign countries 
  • Engaging in suspicious personal contacts with competitors, business partners or unauthorized individuals 
  • Buying items they normally cannot afford
  • Overwhelmed by life crises or career disappointments 
  • Showing concern about being investigated

Common Factors  

  • Financial need 
  • Greed 
  • Unhappiness in the workplace 
  • Different allegiances to another company or country 
  • Drug/Alcohol abuse 
  • Vulnerability to blackmail 
  • Job offers from other organizations

Targeted Industries Or Sectors 

  • Information and communication technology 
  • Business information that pertains to supplies of scarce natural resources or that provides global actors an edge in negotiations with U.S. businesses or the U.S. government 
  • Military technologies (marine systems, unmanned aerial vehicles, and aerospace/aeronautic technologies) 
  • Civilian and dual-use technologies in fast-growing sectors (clean energy, health care and pharmaceuticals, and agricultural technology)
  • Academia


As part of a nationwide campaign to raise awareness of the growing economic espionage threat, the FBI has released a short video, “The Company Man: Protecting America’s Secrets.” Based on an actual case, the video illustrates how one company was targeted by foreign actors and what the FBI did to help. 

 Contact the UConn Research Security Office at researchsecurity@uconn.edu with any concerns or questions.  If you suspect economic espionage is taking place you can also file an anonymous report at compliance.uconn.edu.