Tips on What Not To Do and The Best Way to Find a Hidden Camera or Spy Gadget

If you suspect your business or home is under surveillance with a hidden camera or spy gadget, you may not know where to turn for help. Chances are your quest will include an online search for the best way to find a hidden camera or spy gadget. If you aren’t familiar with the acronym TSCM (technical surveillance countermeasures) your search for help may be lengthy. In fact, typing the subject line of this article in a search engine will lead you to a variety of suggestions including hiring a private investigator or using a spy gadget store for services. Others suggestions include performing your own physical search, buying a “cheap” bug detector or choosing the “cheap” bug sweep option. While all of these options may seem like a solution, we caution you to consider the following information before making a decision.

Best Way To Find A Hidden Camera or Spy Gadget Is NOT

→ Hiring A Private Investigator (PI)

A private investigator’s responsibilities include collecting information by conducting research, interviews, surveillance, etc. Surveillance by a PI can be a time consuming and costly process if done manually. One way to reduce PI surveillance costs is to use spy gadgets (bugging devices), such as GPS trackers or recording devices. So, it is possible that the private investigator who conducted surveillance with spy gadgets for Client A, may be the same PI who performs bug sweep services for Client A’s target. Also consider that knowledge of hidden cameras or spy gadgets (from a user perspective) is not equivalent to expertise in finding hidden cameras and spy gadgets via scientific signal analysis.

Best Way To Find A Hidden Camera or Spy Gadget Is NOT

→ Buying TSCM Services From a Spy Gadget Store

If the company you are considering hiring is also selling spy gadgets, please reconsider. Spy gadget shops specialize in selling spy gadgets used to conduct surveillance. Also, most often they do not have the types and variety of TSCM equipment needed, the appropriate training and/or the experience to perform a professional level TSCM service.

And, that spy gadget shop may be double dipping! How could that happen? Imagine the spy gadget shop sells a spy gadget to Client A who spies on Client B. Then, Client B hires the spy gadget shop to locate the spy gadget Client A used. So, the spy gadget shop makes money selling the spy gadget and again by providing the service to locate the spy gadget. Do you see a potential conflict of interest?

Best Way To Find A Hidden Camera or Spy Gadget Is NOT

→ Performing Your Own Physical Search

A physical search is a part of the process of finding a hidden camera or spy gadget. But, you’ll need a thorough knowledge of the types of spy gadgets, how they are used and electrical engineering principles to perform a proper search. As well, modern bugging devices can be quite small and are often disguised as common objects such as USB sticks, smoke detectors, clocks, etc. Will you be able to tell if that USB is a spy gadget simply by a performing a physical search?

And, GSM bugs, IMSI catchers, key loggers and laser microphones make it possible for a spy to collect your information from a remote location. Locating these types of spy gadgets requires expertise that far exceeds the limitations of a physical search.

Best Way To Find A Hidden Camera or Spy Gadget Is NOT

→ BYOD and Performing Your Own Bug Sweep

You can find “cheap” bug detectors on shopping sites such as eBay. But, a word of caution. These bug detectors will alarm on anything emitting a signal within their detection range(s). That’s right. Once the bug detector alarms, how will you know whether it’s alarming because of an actual spy gadget or if it has captured the signal of a radio station, your neighbor’s microwave or a valid, friendly device?

Also, many modern bugging devices are activated remotely, and do not emit a signal until activated. “Cheap” bug detectors can’t locate an inactive spy gadget. And, unless you’re planning on using your bug detector 24/7, the odds of you catching the signal emitted by a remote activated device, when it is activated, are quite low. That “cheap” bug detector has some limitations that can leave you with more questions than answers.

Best Way To Find A Hidden Camera or Spy Gadget Is NOT

→ Choosing The “Cheap” Option

Performing a proper bug sweep requires expensive equipment, and a good deal of it! It also requires extensive training and experience. The “cheap” options won’t provide you with the same level of service or access to the same level of expertise that you receive from a professional TSCM service provider. Often, the “cheap” services are performed by an inexperienced sweeper with a few pieces of bug detecting equipment; they perform bug sweeps when their primary business is slow or as a side job. These types of services leave you with a false sense of security. A word of advice, properly vet the service provider before signing the contract!

Best Way To Find A Hidden Camera or Spy Gadget Is

↑ Hiring a TSCM Professional To Perform a Bug Sweep

A true TSCM professional uses the proper equipment (and quite a variety of it), has the appropriate training and has many years of experience performing professional level TSCM services. A true TSCM professional stays informed about new spy gadgets, spying techniques and the appropriate detection methods. They are familiar with both domestic and foreign bugging devices and spying tactics.

TSCM is a scientific evaluation of signals to distinguish known, friendly signals from threat signals. It involves determining the source of the signal, so the threat can be dealt with appropriately. It’s a methodical process that ends with a sound scientific conclusion.

Ask yourself, “What is the value of the information I am trying to protect?” If that information has value to your organization or to you personally, then the cost of a professional TSCM service is well worth the investment. Hiring a TSCM professional is much like hiring a doctor or a lawyer. You can choose to self-medicate or represent yourself in court. You can choose the walk-in clinic or that low cost lawyer. Or, you can choose a specialist who is equipped and able to provide professional level services that deliver solid results.

The best way to find a hidden camera, spy gadget or other bugging device is to hire a true TSCM professional. They’ll help you restore your privacy and peace of mind. Be an informed consumer who considers the value of the information you are seeking to protect when choosing a TSCM service provider. Caveat emptor!

About the Author:

J.D. LeaSure, CCISM, is the President / CEO of ComSec LLC, a global provider of world class counterespionage and TSCM / Cyber TSCMservices.