Is Your Office Bugged?

Is Your Office Bugged? Detecting Electronic Eavesdropping

Electronic Eavesdropping Detection Sweeps is otherwise referred to as:

  1. Technical Surveillance Countermeasures
  2. Electronic Countermeasures
  3. Debugging sweeps
  4. Electronic sweeps

Whatever you call it, electronic eavesdropping has never been more accessible to the general public. Bug and eavesdropping devices can be placed in computers, telephone, furnishings, false ceilings and several other places and they may be compromising your privacy at work, home or inside your vehicle. We are fully equipped and experienced and have everything we need in-house; we never use sub-contractors and only use equipment manufactured by the world’s leading companies.

Being a former FBI Agent and Former Police Officer, I have conducted several electronic eavesdropping detection office sweeps.  I have located several devices and I have worked with law enforcement to assist in prosecuting these cases.  I believe that approximately 16% of the time we conduct these investigations we locate some type of listening device.

I have conducted electronic eavesdropping detection office sweeps for Corporate, County, and State Government facilities.

I have also conducted electronic eavesdropping detection office sweeps on residences, phones and vehicles.  Due to the high-tech equipment involved these are very expensive investigations, but they are well worth the money in any highly competitive business or personal relationship.

Here are some Warning Signs of Covert Eavesdropping or Bugging:

  1. Others know your confidential business or professional trade secrets. This is the most common 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. Always trust your instincts in this matter.
  2. Secret meetings and bids seem to be less than secret.  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?
  3. People seem to know your activities when they shouldn’t.
  4. You have noticed strange sounds or volume changes on your phone lines. Commonly caused by an amateur eavesdropper when they attach the actual wiretap, or similar listening device. Surveillance devices often cause slight anomalies on the telephone line such a volume shift or dropout.
  5. You have noticed static, popping, or scratching on your phone lines. This is caused by the capacitive discharge that 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.
  6. You can hear sounds coming from your phone handset when it’s hung up. Typically caused by a hook switch bypass, which turns the telephone receiver into an 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).
  7. Your phone often rings and nobody is there, or a very faint tone or high-pitched squeal/beep is heard. This is a key 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 than a fax machine or modem calling the wrong number.
  8. Your AM/FM radio has suddenly developed strange interference. Many amateur eavesdropping devices use frequencies within the FM radio band; these signals tend to “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 to locate the bug (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. Keep in mind that the antenna your car radio uses may be exploited by an eavesdropper and that such usage may interfere with radio reception.
  9. Your television has suddenly developed strange interference. Television broadcast frequencies are often used to cloak an eavesdropping signal, but such a device 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. A small hand-held 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 66-68as these frequencies are very popular with eavesdroppers.
  10. You have been the victim of a burglary, but nothing was taken. 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.
  11. Electrical wall plates appear to have been moved slightly or “jarred”. One of the most popular locations to hide eavesdropping devices is inside, or behind electrical outlets, switches, 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 colour 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 wall plate against the wall have been moved from their previous position.
  12. A dime-sized discoloration has suddenly appeared on the wall.  A sign would be a pinhole microphone or small video camera has been recently installed.
  13. One of your vendors just gave you any type of electronic device such as a desk radio,
  14. alarm clock, lamp small TV, boom box, CD player, and so on. Many of these “gifts” are actually trojan horses that 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.
  15. A small bump of deformation has appeared on the vinyl baseboard Strong indicator that someone may have concealed covert wiring or a microphone imbedded into the adhesive that holds the moulding to the wall.
  16. The Smoke Detector, Clock, Lamp, or Exit Sign in your office or home looks slightly crooked, has a small hole in the surface, or has a quasi reflective surface”. 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.
  17. Certain types of items have “just appeared” in your office of home, but nobody seems to know how they got there. Typical items to watch for and beware of are: Clocks, Exit Signs, Sprinkler Heads, Radios, and Lamps.
  18. White dry-wall dust or debris is noticed on the floor next to the wall. 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.
  19. Small pieces of ceiling tiles, or “grit” is noticed on the floor, or on the surface area of your desk. 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 in the ceiling tiles and amateur spies always tend to crack or damage acoustical tiles. Note: all of the ceiling tiles in any executive areas should never contain any cracks, nicks, gouges, or stains. Any ceiling tile that becomes damaged (for whatever reason) should immediately be 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.
  20. You notice that “Phone Company” trucks and utility workers are spending a lot of time near your home or office doing repair work. If you see the same or similar vehicle more then three times then you have a serious problem (at least according to the U.S. State Department training course on counter surveillance).
  21. Telephone, cable, plumbing, or air conditioning repair people show up to do work when no one called them. 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 involves power, air conditioning, telephone, and even the occasional false fire alarm.
  22. Service or delivery trucks are often parked nearby with nobody in them. These vehicles are commonly used as listening posts, be very cautious of any vehicle which hasa ladder or pipe rack on the roof. Also, be wary of any vehicle that has tinted windows, or an area that 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 that could conceal a person in the back or has tinted windows.
  23. Your door locks suddenly don’t “feel right”, they suddenly start to get “sticky”, or they completely fail.  Prime evidence that the lock has been picked, manipulated, or bypassed. Always use Biaxial locks with sidebars (such as ASSA or Medeco). Also, only use double-sided deadbolts in all doors. Use good quality window bars on all windows, and a good quality door bar on all doors not used as a primary entry door.
  24. Furniture has been moved slightly, and no one knows why. 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 lampshades. 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.
  25. Things “seem” to have been rummaged through, but nothing is missing (at least that you noticed). 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.

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