Warning Signs of Covert Eavesdropping or Bugging
If any of the following warning signs apply and you are concerned about covert eavesdropping or wiretapping then it would be wise to contact Granite Island Group, or another TSCM firm and schedule a "Bug Sweep" or TSCM Inspection. However, do not call from a suspect telephone, cellular telephone, or cordless phone and understand that it is critical that you should get someone out to your location as quietly, and as quickly as possible.
This is the most obvious indicator of covert eavesdropping activities. Theft of confidential information is a multi-billion dollar underground industry in the United States. Often the loss of your secrets will show up in very subtle ways so you should always trust your instincts in this matter. When your competitors know things that are obviously private, or the media finds out about things they should not know, then it is reasonable to suspect technical eavesdropping or bugging.
Confidential meetings and bids are very popular targets for corporate spies. How would you like the plans for the corporate takeovers you're planning to become public knowledge? Would copies of your product designs be of any use to your competitors? Would it be beneficial for your competitors to know how much you're quoting for the same project?
This is commonly caused by an amateur eavesdropper when they attach a wiretap, or activate a similar listening device. Surveillance devices often cause slight anomalies on the telephone line such a volume shift or drop-out. Professional eavesdroppers and their equipment usually do not make such noises; so if this is going on it could indicate that an amateur eavesdropper is listening in.
This is caused by the capacitive discharge which occurs when two conductors are connected together (such as a bug or wiretap on a phone line). This is also a sign that an amateur eavesdropper or poorly trained spy is playing with your phone lines. It could be nothing more then a problem with your phone line or instrument, but a TSCM person should evaluate the situation to make sure.
This is often caused by a hook switch bypass, which turns the telephone receiver into a eavesdropping microphone (and also a speaker). There is probably somebody listening to everything you say or do within twenty feet of the telephone (if this is happening).
This is an indicator of a slave device, or line extender being used on your phone line. This is also a key indicator of a harmonica bug, or infinity transmitter being used. Of course it may also be nothing more then a fax machine or modem calling the wrong number (but a TSCM person should evaluate the situation to make sure).
To check for something like this you would have to obtain a "recorder starter" interface (with a VOX option), or some kind of a high gain audio amplifier such as a uAmp or Kaiser 1059. Then with the phone hung-up listen to your telephone wiring. If you hear a faint solid dual tone it is a dead giveaway of someone using a "slave" eavesdropping device on your (or one of your neighbors) telephone lines. Such devices create a "command tone" when the subject hangs up the phone (so you must ensure that all of your phones are hung-up). On an added note: the most common command tones for illicit eavesdropping devices are 2100 Hz and DTMF-C, but any tone combination may be used.
Many amateur and spy shop eavesdropping devices use frequencies within or just outside the FM radio band, these signals tend to drift and will "quiet" an FM radio in the vicinity of the bug. Look for the transmissions at far ends of the FM radio band, and at any quiet area within the FM band. If the radio begins to squeal then slowly move it around the room until the sound become very high pitched. This is referred to as feedback detection or loop detection and will often locate the bug. The "stereo" function should be turned off so the radio is operating in "mono" as this will provide a serious increase in sensitivity. If you find a "squealer" in this manner then immediately contact a TSCM and get them to your location FAST.
Keep in mind that the antenna your car radio uses may be (and often is) exploited by an eavesdropper, and that such usage may interfere with radio reception (so be concerned if you automobile radio suddenly starts getting weird).
Television broadcast frequencies are often used to cloak a eavesdropping signal, but such a devices also tends to interfere with television reception (usually a UHF channel). Televisions also "suck in" a lot of RF energy and because of this are very sensitive to any nearby transmitters (this is technically called "Bandwidth, and TV signals use a lot of it). A small handheld television with a collapsible antenna may be used to sweep a room. Carefully watch for interference around channel numbers 2, 7, 13, 14, 50-60, and 66-68 as these frequencies are very popular with eavesdroppers.
Professional eavesdroppers often break into a targets home or office, and very rarely leave direct evidence of the break-in; however, occupants of the premises will often "pickup on something not being right" such as the furniture being moved slightly.
One of the most popular locations to hide eavesdropping devices is inside, or behind electrical outlets, switches, smoke alarms, and lighting fixtures. This requires that the wall plates be removed. Look for small amounts of debris located on the floor directly below the electrical outlet. Also, watch for slight variations in the color or appearance of the power outlets and/or light switches as these are often swapped out by an eavesdropper. Also note if any of the screws which hold the wallplate against the wall have been moved from their previous position.
This is a tell tale sign that a pinhole microphone or small covert video camera has been recently installed.
Many of these "gifts" are actually trojan horses which contain eavesdropping devices. Be very suspicious of any kind of pen, marker, briefcase, calculator, "post-it" dispenser, power adapter, pager, cell phone, cordless phone, clock, radio, lamp, and so on that is given as a gift. That little gift the salesman left for you may be a serious hazard.
Strong indicator that someone may have concealed covert wiring or a microphone imbedded into the adhesive which holds the molding to the wall. Such deformation will often appear as a color shift, or lightening of the color.
These items are very popular concealment for covert eavesdropping devices. Often when these devices are installed at a target location they are rarely installed straight. Also watch out for things like this that "just appear", or when there is a slight change in their appearance.
Typical items to watch for and beware of are: clocks, exit signs, sprinkler heads, radios, picture frames, and lamps.
A sign that a pinhole microphone or video camera may have been installed nearby. It will appear as if someone has dropped a small amount of powdered sugar either on the floor, or on the wall.
Prime indicator that a ceiling tile has been moved around, and that someone may have installed a hidden video camera or other eavesdropping device in your office or near your desk. Also watch for cracks or chips in the ceiling tiles. Amateur and poorly trained spies tend to crack or damage acoustical tiles. The ceiling tiles in any executive areas should never contain any cracks, nicks, gouges, or stains. Any ceiling tile that becomes damaged (for what ever reason) should immediately replaced and the cause to the damage documented. In such cases it is also wise to have a TSCM specialist inspect the area around the chipped, broken, or damaged tile to determine if a hostile eavesdropping device may have been introduced.
If you see the same or similar vehicles more then three times then you may have a serious problem (at least according to the U.S. State Department training course on counter surveillance).
A very common ruse which eavesdroppers use to get into a facility is to fake a utility outage, and then show up to fix the problem. While they are fixing "the problem" they are also installing eavesdropping devices. Some of the more popular outage involve power, air conditioning, telephone, and even the occasional false fire alarm.
These vehicles are commonly used as listening posts, be very cautious of any vehicle which has a ladder or pipe rack on the roof. Also, be wary of any vehicle which has tinted windows, or an area which you cannot see though (like a service van). The listening post vehicle could be any vehicle from a small Geo Tracker, Suburban, Blazer, Trooper, or Cargo Van. Look for any vehicle which could conceal a person in the back or has tinted windows. Also, keep in mind that the eavesdropper may relocate the vehicle several times, so look around. Typically, eavesdroppers like to get within 500-750 feet from the place or person they are eavesdropping on.
Prime evidence that the lock has been picked, manipulated, or bypassed. Try to always use biaxial locks with sidebars (such as ASSA or Medeco). Also, only use double sided deadbolts in all doors, and good quality window bars on all windows, and a good quality door bar on all doors not used as a primary entry doors.
A very popular location for the installation of eavesdropping device is either behind, or inside furniture (couch, chair, lamp, etc.) People who live or work in a targeted area tend to notice when furnishings have been moved even a fraction of an inch. Pay close attention to the imprint which furniture makes on rugs, and the position of lamps shades. Also watch the distance between furniture and the wall as eavesdroppers are usually in a hurry and rarely put the furniture back in the right place.
A "less than professional spy" will often rummage through a targets home for hours, but very rarely will they do it in a neat and orderly fashion. The most common "rummaging" targets are the backs of desk drawers, the bottom of file cabinets, closets, and dresser drawers.
High Threat Business Situations
Anyone can be the target of covert eavesdropping, however; some people are under greater risk than others because of financial position, occupation, legal, or domestic situation.
You (or someone close to you) have been:
On a related note: If you work (or have worked) for any kind of military, governmental, law enforcement or judicial agency the possibility of you being targeted for eavesdropping is very high. Such eavesdropping can come from either side of the law, and is rarely legal or court sanctioned.
Additionally, people married to, associated with, divorced from, getting divorced from, dating, or getting intimate with a member of law enforcement, private security, PI, or any level of the judicial system should be concerned about illegal eavesdropping (yes, cops love to bug their wives and girlfriends).
Information and Communications:
Biotechnology and Life Sciences:
Energy and Environment:
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