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Counter Surveillance; Are You Being Bugged?

This page is intended to help you consider the chances of you being Bugged, and help you take action to eliminate any chance of people listening in to your private conversations! We will also give advice on vehicle tracking and phone tapping.

The information contained here is not a gospel to counter surveillance, as this would be well beyond the scope of most none professionals. To put it simply, if a surveillance device has been planted by the security services/police, the chances of the untrained person detecting it would be very slim. The term untrained person includes a large proportion of private investigators, who claim to be experts in this field.

Are you at Risk From Being Bugged?
A short but direct answer to this is YES. The question is who would want to or stand to gain from going to the trouble and expense of doing it. Political & public figures, people engaged in fringe & extremist groups, those cheating on their partner, persons engaged in research & development especially in the IT field, higher management personnel in competitive companies. The list is endless.

Do you know
  • A simple modification to your phone handset can leave the microphone connected all the time allowing anyone  to listen in to all conversations in the room.
  • A telephone transmitter or recorder which transmits or records all of your telephone conversations may be installed in the phone, the socket or junction box, anywhere on the line, as far back or even inside the exchange.
  • A bug may be installed without entering your premises.
  • A wall contact microphone can pick up conversations through up to 30 cm of concrete.
  • A socket, light switch, or any other electrical device may be replaced with an identical unit that contains a built in GSM bug with with a sim card or SD card recorder, powered by the mains.
  • Speech in a room causes a small vibration on the window, which can be detected and converted to audio, by a    laser beam, from some distance away.

Software is available for mobile phones using the operating system that record all room and telephone conversations, SMS messages, emails etc. Then the recordings are then sent by the phones internet connection to a server where the person who has installed it can listen to the recordings on their PC. Copies of text messages mails and many other communications are also sent to the server.

Indications That You May Be a Victim Of Bugging
  • Confidential information seems to be getting out to competitors
  • Competitors seem to be just one step ahead all the time
  • Your home or premises have been broken into and very little or nothing was taken
  • Sockets or switches show signs of being moved slightly, i.e.: the wallpaper may be disturbed.
  • Various vehicles parked near to your premises, that appear to be empty
  • You hear unusual sounds (crackling, clicks, volume changes) on your telephone handset
  • Indications that your handset may have been exchanged, i.e.: numbers in memory may be lost
  • Repairers or unknown companies turn up to carry out work when they have not been called
  • Furniture or items appear to have been disturbed
  • Interference on your radio or television
  •  A odd texture on small parts of wall, floor or skirting boards, this may indicate the use of conductive paint from a hidden microphone.
  • Unexplained brick or plaster dust on floor, or a small discoloration showing on the wall, this may indicate drilling from the other side of the wall or plaster, paper being lifted to plant a microphone.

If you suspect you are a victim of bugging, the first thing to decide is, do you want to alert the opposition that you suspect this, as sometimes, once you are aware of it you can use the fact to your advantage by a campaign of misinformation. Other things to take into consideration are that once the electronic spy is alerted they may take steps to make detection more difficult. i.e.: temporary removal etc.

The most important part of any check is the visual inspection this when carried out correctly can take many hours, as each room has to be checked inch by inch. Also all socket outlet, light switches, vent grills are to be removed. It is often wise to purchase a set of these items giving you something as a comparison with the ones which you remove.

Other items which you may find more difficult to check and are very popular systems for the electronic spy these are fire and intruder alarm units and they may use the existing alarm wiring to pass the signal back to the control unit which may conceal a transmitter or recorder in its circuitry. When inspecting the outside of the premises be on the lookout for any newly replaced mortar or any signs of drilling etc. the same goes for inside, and a careful examination of plaster work and skirting boards is required, as often a slight discoloration is caused when a microphone is placed just below the surface or a fine layer of conductive paint may have been used to carry power/signals to a hidden device.

Equipment
There are many devices available, costing thousands of pounds but without expert knowledge, the results can often be worthless and a good near range RF detector with a range up to at least 5 GHZ should suffice for the DIY bug hunter. The ideal type are the ones that display signal strength and the frequency. Another valuable piece of equipment can be a scanner as when a RF/GSM/GPRS signal is detected the scanner can be locked onto it and you can verify what the transmission is and if you are in the same area as a room bug you will get a loud feedback. Start the sweep on a room by room basis checking with electrical items switched on and then off. Quite often you will come across RF transmissions that are perfectly innocent such as wireless alarm systems and common-sense and painstaking elimination have to be used.
The presence of a transmitter is usually shown by a steady frequency with the signal strength rising as you get closer to the source, what can cause difficulty and confusion is the fact that many RF transmitters emit signals on several frequencies at close range, so be warned and don't be convinced you have several bugs in one room. When sweeping pay particular attention to vent grills, electrical outlets, switches, light fittings etc. and make sure lights, ceiling cavities, wall surfaces and the external areas of the property are checked. Remember that small battery powered transmitters and bugs can be concealed in almost anything.

The most common form of transmitter now in use utilises the GSM mobile phone network enabling the listener to simply call into the surveillance device or transfer data from anywhere in the world.

To enquire about having your premises checked for electronic eavesdropping devices please contact us by email, via the contact link or by telephone.

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