Thursday, August 10, 2006

Wire tap & bug detection update

Cell phone bugs are currently the most popular and easiest method of eavesdropping. Whether placed behind a plant in a conference room, or behind the bed in a bedroom, cell phone bugs are hot.

Cell phones can be purchased right off the shelf that have the ability to silence the ringer. All an eavesdropper has to do is just leave the cell phone any place he wants to listen in on the activity. Then he can call the cell phone from any place in the world.

Some cell phones are modified slightly with a super-sensitive microphone, or even an extended microphone on a thin wire leading away from the cell phone. Cell phone bugs can last a week or more with the internal battery. Connected to a car battery, cell phone bugs hidden in a vehicle can last indefinately.

Most TSCM people (bug sweepers) either don't bother with cell phone frequencies because they are so common. Also, a cell phone left in an office looks so innocous. However, it's a very real threat.

Cordless phone threats

Yesterday, I conducted an electronic sweep at a home in Connecticut. The owner said that people were repeating conversations that had taken place in the privacy of his home. We get many calls from paranoid people who may suffer from mental illness. So, I was a little dubious.

I still see quite a few 900 MHz cordless phones in homes. Eavesdroppers can easily listen in on their conversations with a simple Radio Shack scanner. I always advise clients to throw out these phones and pick up a digital 2.4 GHz or 5.8 GHz cordless phone, as these aren't picked up by scanners.

Yesterday, to my surprise, I found a GE 5.8 GHz cordless phone that was compromised. When I conduct an electronic sweep, I play music from a known sound source, a cassette player. My equipment includes an array of antennas and a broadband receiver with headphones. If I hear the music I'm playing through my headphones, then I know a hidden microphone in the room is picking it up and transmitting it. In this case, it was the cordless phone. The lesson is, anything can be compromised.

No comments: