Zwei verdeckte Männer vis-à-vis zur Illustration des Arbeitsfelds „Spionage- und Proliferationsabwehr“, Keyvisual Spionageabwehr

What objectives do foreign intelligence services pursue?

Intelligence services act on behalf of and under the control of their respective governments. The objectives pursued by an intelligence service will thus depend on the government's political priorities.

While the services strive to obtain information relating to various fields, a major focus of intelligence collection is on politics, economy, science and military. In these fields, foreign intelligence services try to collect sensitive information, which they may use to know the Federal Republic's stance prior to international negotiations, to foresee future economic decisions, to learn about current research results or to obtain intelligence on the military capabilities of the Federal Armed Forces and their allies.

The field of economy is particularly prone to arouse some intelligence services' interest in specific information such as technical expertise or individual products offered by a company. The illegal transfer of knowledge may help to save time and development costs and to achieve a competitive advantage. Some foreign intelligence services even have the statutory task to support their respective economies using such activities. Another goal foreign states try to attain is to identify at an early stage any developments in Germany that relate to economic strategy and technological policy.

In addition to espionage in the real world and in cyber space, foreign intelligence services also engage in disinformation or influencing activities and in sabotage. To exert their influence, they co-operate with other national entities of their home countries and with non-governmental organisations operating in Germany, the latter having varying degrees of attachment to their countries of origin.

Another priority of foreign intelligence services is to spy on members of the opposition. Some countries try to monitor and spy on their nationals living in Germany, who are either opposed to their governments back home, or who are considered a threat for other reasons.

Finally, BfV has also discovered activities of foreign intelligence services preparing sabotage in Germany. Such activities particularly target critical infrastructures in power and water supply.

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Anti-terrorist Hotline: +49(0)221/ 792-3366

Anti-terrorist Hotline: +49(0)221/ 792-3366

Publications

2018 Annual Report on the Protection of the Constitution (Facts and Trends)

2018 Annual Report on the Protection of the Constitution (Facts and Trends)

DOI: June 2019
Further information Download PDF File
Cyber attacks controlled by intelligence services

Cyber attacks controlled by intelligence services

DOI: May 2018
Further information Download PDF File
2017 Annual Report on the Protection of the Constitution (Facts and Trends)

2017 Annual Report on the Protection of the Constitution (Facts and Trends)

DOI: July 2018
Further information Download PDF File
How can I identify extremists and members of foreign secret services within my environment? - Important information for refugees in Germany

How can I identify extremists and members of foreign secret services within my environment? - Important information for refugees in Germany

DOI: March 2018
Further information Download PDF File
Right-wing extremism - Signs, symbols and banned organisations

Right-wing extremism - Signs, symbols and banned organisations

DOI: October 2018
Further information Download PDF File
2016 Annual Report on the Protection of the Constitution (Facts and Trends)

2016 Annual Report on the Protection of the Constitution (Facts and Trends)

DOI: July 2017
Further information Download PDF File