Privacy Protection: Technical Surveillance During Travel

Privacy protection while traveling can be a challenge. Whether you are traveling for work or for pleasure, you face an elevated risk of technical surveillance in rentals. The unsettling reality is that someone who rented the space or vehicle before you may have it under technical surveillance. Or, you may be the “intentional” target of technical surveillance so a spy can get access to your valuable information.

We’ve all heard the horror stories about the executive whose hotel room was bugged and subsequently sensitive information was accessed by the electronic  eavesdropper. Or, the vacationing couple who discover the owner of their rental property had them under audio and/or video surveillance. Or, the traveler who rented a vehicle and found a GPS tracker.

If your rental is under technical surveillance, the ramifications could be professionally or personally devastating. So, how can you improve privacy protection from technical surveillance when you travel?

Professionals Who Travel

Privacy Protection Technical Security TravelIf you are a government official, law enforcement, business owner, entrepreneur, or executive, you face an elevated risk of “intentional” technical surveillance when you travel. Spies “intentionally” target professionals for technical surveillance due to:

  • Your affiliations
  • The information you exchange or access
  • The work you perform or business you own
  • The industry you work in
  • Your country of origin; and/or
  • Your connections.

The reality is that exchanging valuable or sensitive information while on travel cannot always be avoided. And, if work demands it, you may find yourself handling work communications even when you are on vacation. Essentially, you work from wherever you are when you need to. This makes privacy protection from technical surveillance threats so important for professionals who travel.

Safeguards like limiting the information shared, using your own encrypted and password protected Wi-Fi access point, using a secure telephone, encrypted apps for voice and text, all help to protect privacy when professionals travel. But, these measures DO NOT address technical surveillance devices in the physical rented spaces that can easily capture valuable or sensitive information. These bugging devices can also provide damaging personal information that the safeguards don’t address either. Having a professional level bug sweep of your rental may not be feasible. But, that doesn’t mean that there is nothing you can do to better protect your privacy while traveling.

Technical Surveillance in Hotel Rooms & Rental Properties

Privacy Protection Technical Surveillance TravelNews reports share the scary details about home renters who found audio and/or video surveillance devices in the spaces. Yes, even in the bedroom or bathroom . . . capturing private moments. And, it’s not just rental properties that are risky. Renting a hotel room can also increase your risk of technical surveillance too.  And, unfortunately for every renter who finds the bugging device in the space, there may be a multitude more who were under technical surveillance and did not find the “bug.”

Anyone that had access to the rental (maintenance, prior occupants, etc.) could have planted a technical surveillance device in the rental. Sure a cleaning service or hotel maid cleans the rental units between guests. But, the maid is not performing a bug sweep in the rental unit between guests. So, if a previous occupant planted a bugging device in the room, it will likely continue collecting information for a long time. Modern battery operated technical surveillance devices can record for months. Hard wire devices can collect information for even longer.

Rented Vehicle Technical Surveillance

Privacy Protection Technical Surveillance Travel

Making or taking phone calls in a vehicle are common thanks to hands free features. And, many of us feel free to speak candidly in our vehicle, like it’s our own personal safety bubble. But, vehicles are not as private as we may think, especially rented vehicles. Installing a GPS tracker takes seconds, and does not require access to the inside of the vehicle. And, installing a bugging device also takes seconds.

And, the next fact I’m about to share with you will make you feel even less secure in a rental vehicle. The vehicle apps that you put on your cellphone to allow you to control features and functions of the vehicle . . . well, many people don’t remove the app when they turn in the vehicle. So, a previous renter may be able to track you, and control the rental vehicle you are driving after their rental term has expired. Rental companies don’t all check to make sure the app access to the vehicle is terminated once it is turned in. We’ve learned that this handled on the honor system by most.

And, like rented spaces, rental vehicles are also cleaned between rentals. But, they are not swept for GPS trackers or technical surveillance devices between rentals. So, if a previous renter put a GPS tracker or other technical surveillance device on the rental, you would not know it until it’s too late.

International Travel Increases the Risk

The risks increase exponentially for international travelers. We suggest that you review information provided on the Director of National Intelligence to learn more. They provide excellent tips on protecting your privacy during International travel.

The Solution: The COVERT

THE COVERT Counter Surveillance Travel KitThe COVERT counter surveillance kit provides a technical surveillance detection option to protect your privacy during travel. The kit includes user-friendly counter surveillance tools that detect a range of surreptitious devices from simple audio and optical surveillance transmissions to executive level devices. And, with the kit you also get access to resources that demonstrate how you can effectively utilize the tools.

The COVERT provides a first line of defense for government, law enforcement, business owners, entrepreneurs, and other technical security conscious travelers. Travelers can now perform a limited scope sweep of the area(s) of concern when a full scope sweep is not possible. While it is not a substitution for a professional full scope TSCM Bug Sweep, it does provide awareness of technical security threats that are typical in rented spaces.



Protecting your valuable information and your privacy in rented spaces and vehicles when you travel is necessary.  The COVERT kit gives you tools and knowledge to protect your privacy when you travel.  The question to ask is yourself is – how much is your information and your privacy worth? If it’s valuable, you now have a kit solution that can fit in your backpack, briefcase or luggage that will help you to protect your privacy when you travel.

About the Author:

JD LeaSure, President / CEO, ComSec LLC

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