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How To Behave If You Suspect That You Have Been Bugged

  1. Be Calm...
  2. DO Immediately Contact a TSCM Specialist
  3. DO Use E-Mail to contact (but be discreet)
  4. DO Use the phone, but call from a phone away from your office or home.
  5. DO Schedule a Vulnerability Analysis or Threat Assessment ASAP
  6. DO Consider having a Full TSCM Survey or Sweep completed ASAP

  7. Be Very Discreet...
  8. DO NOT Try to find the bug or wiretap yourself
  9. DO NOT Contact the telephone company to help (they will laugh at you)
  10. DO NOT Contact the FBI/Secret Service to help (they will ignore you)
  11. DO NOT Try to get the local police to help (they lack the ability)
  12. DO NOT Use your office telephone to initiate contact
  13. DO NOT Use your cellular or cordless phone to contact or discuss
  14. DO NOT Discuss this issue at the office, in your car, or at home
  15. DO NOT Engage a private investigator to find it (they may have planted it)
  16. DO NOT Buy spy shop bug detectors (they're worthless, and a scam)

Special precautions which must be practiced prior to contacting anyone for TSCM services:

It is critical that you get a TSCM specialist out to the area to be inspected a quickly as possible (typically within 72 hours or less, the same day is ideal).

It is important that you keep the area occupied until the TSCM specialists arrival to prevent removal of any possible eavesdropping device.

If you are currently the target of eavesdropping, special steps must be taken to avoid alerting the eavesdroppers that you are seeking professional help to detect their activities.

If such an eavesdropper learns that a team is about to perform a TSCM service they will quickly remove (or turn off) their eavesdropping devices, and re-install them after the sweep has been completed (and no bugs will be found).

Many TSCM sweeps have been compromised or ruined by clients who call the TSCM specialist from the suspect facility.

Keep in mind that there are less then a dozen legitimate and competent TSCM specialists and counterintelligence firms in the U.S. private sector, be patient when trying to locate one to help you.

Watch out for the "Two-Week Wonders," a number of private investigator schools certify students to do TSCM sweeps after only one to two weeks of classroom training. Their typical student has little or no technical background, and rarely any intelligence training or background.

All legitimate TSCM people have extensive background in either electronics or government intelligence operations (often both).

A legitimate TSCM person will also have at least 500 hours of specialized TSCM inspection training on top of their expert technical skills and technical training (don't be bashful about asking about their technical credentials).

Private Investigators are rarely qualified to perform bug sweeps, their training, background, and equipment are for the INSTALLATION of bugging devices, NOT removal. However, a PI will often bring in a legitimate TSCM firm as a subcontractor.

Be suspicious about any TSCM specialist who seems a little too pushy, too enthusiastic, or anyone who wants to play "cloak and dagger games" with you.

For every legitimate TSCM specialist there are 50 con artists, 50 outright crooks, and 100 bumbling fools who will also try to get your business. Many of these people are criminals (usually convicted felons), who also operate businesses which sell and/or install eavesdropping equipment. (Remember ask about their technical credentials).

Always ask the TSCM specialist "what else they do", as many firms do TSCM as an extra service, and do not specialize in it. Do they list TSCM as something they "also do", but not as one of the top services they offer? Many PI's list TSCM and Bug Sweep services at the bottom of their services list (right underneath polygraph interviews, executive protection, dog walking, grocery shopping, and technical security).

Executive Summary

When you suspect that you may be the victim of covert eavesdropping:

Watch what you say at home or at the office (Keep Quiet and never discuss your concerns inside, outside, or near any suspect facility)

If you need to discuss this issue with someone, DON'T do it at the office, your auto, or home.

Never call a TSCM firm from any phone near your office, or your residence. Instead call from a randomly chosen pay phone that is 10-20 miles away for the initial contact (pay phones at hospitals, airports, large hotels, train stations, and other large public areas are a good choice).

Private telephones in the homes of senior executives are a popular and valuable targets for an eavesdropper, so do not call from home.

Never call from any type of cordless phone, cellular telephone, PCS phone, or any other type of wireless device.

Also, do not trust any type of spread spectrum telephone or fax machine as they are very easy to monitor (with a $50 circuit).

Contact a TSCM specialist by E-mail, but only to set up an appointment for a phone consultation (where you call from a pay phone).

Schedule a Vulnerability Analysis or Threat Assessment ASAP, and try to get the TSCM specialist to schedule a visit within 72 hours or less (within 24 hours is ideal).

Have someone who specializes in technical counterintelligence do a TSCM Survey, and make sure that this person is an expert with computers, telecommunications, and electronics.

Handle the logistics of the inspection away from your office.

The most important issue you should start thinking about is:
"What are we going to do if a bug is found?"


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Copyright © 2001, James M. Atkinson