Motive. That is the first thing you should consider if you believe you may be a potential target of covert surveillance. If anything you write, say or do can increase someone else’s wealth or influence, that is more than motive enough.
Below are warning signs that you may be the target of a surveillance campaign.
- Others seem to know more than they should about your confidential business or professional trade secrets.
- Secret meetings, negotiations or bids seem to be open knowledge.
- You have noticed strange sounds or volume changes on your phone lines. (Amateur wiretappers tend to use off-the-shelf equipment that is inferior to that used by professional eavesdroppers. Almost all surveillance devices cause slight anomalies on the phone line, such as volume changes and or drop-offs. This could also simply be a flaw in the line but definitely have the line checked.)
- Static, popping or scratching sounds appear on your phone line. (This occurs when a poorly trained or amateur eavesdropper is messing with your line. When two conductors are connected together - such as a bug or wiretap on a line, there is an electrical discharge that causes these sounds.)
- Your phone’s headset emits sounds when it’s hung up. (This is caused by a hook switch bypass which effectively turns the phone receiver into a microphone and a speaker. There is probably someone listening to everything being said within 15 – 25 feet of the telephone.)
- Your phone rings often and there is either nobody there, a very faint tone or a high pitched squeal or beep which is heard for a split second. (This is indicative or a slave device or line extender being used on your phone line. )
- Your AM/FM radio suddenly develops strange interference. (Many amateurs use eavesdropping devices that use frequencies within or just barely outside the FM radio band. These signals tend to drift and will “quiet” an FM radio in range of the bug. If the radio begins to squeal when slowed moved around the room, keep it in motion until the sound becomes very high pitched. You’ve now found you bug. Make sure that the “stereo” function is turned off so that the radio is operating only in “mono” as this will seriously increase the radio’s sensitivity.)
- Your car radio suddenly becomes erratic. (The antenna of your car radio can be, and often is, used by eavesdroppers.)
- Your television develops strange interference. (TV draws in a lot of bandwidth. Because of this they are very sensitive to any nearby transmitter – bugs.)
- You have been burglarized but nothing was taken. (Professional eavesdroppers often repeatedly break into a target’s home or office, usually to reposition or replace malfunctioning or dead bugs. Rarely, however, can anyone reset furniture or room accents back to the exact position. If you feel it, test it.)
- Electrical wall plates appear to be moved slightly. (One of the most popular places to hide bugs are inside electrical outlets, smoke alarms and lighting fixtures. This requires that the wall plate surrounding the device be removed and replaced. Look for small amounst of debris directly below the electrical outlet and note the repositioned screws.)
- A dime-sized discoloration suddenly appears on the wall or ceiling. (This is a sure sign that a pinhole mike or small video camera has been recently installed.)
- One of your vendors has gifted you with any type of an electronic device such a desk radio, alarm clock, iPod, small TV… (Many gifts of this type are Trojan horses. Know your gifter.)
- A small bump or deformation appears on the baseboard near the floor. (Someone may have concealed covert wiring or a mike imbedded into the molding adhesive, causing the discoloration.)
- Certain items just appear in your office or home, yet no one seems to know how they got there. (Typical items to watch for are clocks, exit signs, sprinkler heads. picture frames and lamps.)
- You notice repair vehicles often now near your home or office.
- Telephone, cable, plumbing or HVAC repair people show up to allegedly do work when they have not been requested. (A very common ruse is for eavesdroppers to pretend they need to repair a problem when in fact they are installing recording devices.)
- Service or delivery trucks are often parked nearby your office or home with nobody (that you can see) in them. (These types of vehicles are often used as listening posts. Be especially wary of those vehicles with tinted windows and those carrying what appear to be ladders and pipe racks on the roofs. These are often sophisticated antennas.)
- Your door lock suddenly doesn’t ”feel right”. (That is primary evidence that your door lock has been picked, manipulated or bypassed. Try to always use coaxial locks with sidebars – such as Medeco locks.)
- Things seems to have been rummaged through but nothing taken. (The most common rummaging targets are the backs of desk drawers, the bottom of cabinets, closets and dresser drawers.)
And finally, if an eavesdropper sends you a copy of your private conversations, texts, chats…, all bets are off. You have been compromised and can expect to be blackmailed or terrorized. At this point, inform your local police department and immediately contact the FBI. If you believe that you have also been compromised/cyber defrauded, contact IC3 – The Internet Crime Complaint Center (IC3) is a partnership between the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) and the National White Collar Crime Center (NW3C).
Our Operatives: Street smart; tech savvy.
As always, stay safe.
- Surveillance device uses Wi-Fi to see through walls (stratrisks.com)
- US DOJ Ordered Pen Register Surveillance 37,616 Times in 2011 (news.softpedia.com)
- Surveillance Commissioner warns about significant RIPA failings, unregulated private sector surveillance, and surveillance using the Internet. (amberhawk.typepad.com)
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