The content of the article
It may seem that spy movie bugs are something out of date. Why difficulties if microphones and cameras are everywhere – in laptops, smartphones and other devices? However, access to them can be more difficult than access to the physical space in which they are located. It was then that the arsenal of miniature, difficult to notice and quite modern devices came onto the scene. Let's see if they should be scared, and if so, what security measures can be taken.
Soberness and Vigilance
Thinking if anyone is watching you, it’s very easy to fall into paranoia. We are moving with leaps and bounds towards a "transparent" society, so it is absolutely certain that someone once is watching you. In order not to go crazy, you need to concentrate on a practical approach to the question: when can surveillance of me turn out to be unprofitable for me, but will it benefit someone?
Unfortunately, if you are engaged in business, at least somehow famous or working with trade secrets, you are in a potential risk zone. It is worth mentioning the curious but unpleasant stories about hidden cameras in rented apartments Airbnb or in public showers, locker rooms, toilets. A hidden camera that watches the keyboard of an ATM (or any other place where a password is entered on the keyboard) can also make life easier for attackers.
So first of all, figure out who, why and how can act against you. Perhaps in some attack scenarios the use of gadgets will indeed prove practical. For example, if someone wants to monitor your movements, then he has various methods at his disposal – to hire private detectives or to access the data of providers and mobile operators. But using a GPS tracker can be cheaper, easier and more convenient.
If suddenly after reading this article you wanted to feel like a super spy, then regardless of whether you have bad intentions or just want to have fun, we really do not recommend it. In the Russian Federation, laws exist that prohibit the sale and purchase of devices designed to covertly collect information. The wording in the law is vague, and the practice of enforcement includes so dubious stories that the Supreme Court even issued a special clarificationhow to prevent abuse of law.
After that, determine in which zone the violation of information security will be really critical in order to focus on its protection and not spend too much effort and resources. It is impossible and not necessary to protect everything from everything; instead, it is worth protecting the truly important. The boardroom meeting room or the area in which they are working on a critical project, for example. Or just a pantry in which you store something that should not catch the eye of people who do not love you.
Do not forget that one of the most important tools of a hacker is social engineering. So you need to protect yourself from her. If you have already decided on your “protected perimeter”, then make sure that the people allowed in it are also competent and interested in maintaining security. Remember that no one pays attention to cleaners and repairmen – it’s easier for them to install a hidden device. But an absolutely loyal, but careless colleague may simply not notice that someone put a gadget spy in his bag or pocket.
From theory to practice
Such an introduction before discussing technical issues was necessary, because there is no method against some scrap, except for forethought.
A modern microphone bug can be smaller than a flash drive, and if it just records information while it’s in someone’s pocket, then it can be detected only with a highly sensitive detector at close range. It can look like anything. So you need to protect yourself from it primarily by non-technical methods.
Remember that any spy device has strengths and weaknesses. So, the microphone, for all its undetectability, has two very important weaknesses. Firstly, the battery: no matter how good it is, even if the device is activated only when there is sound, and the rest of the time is in sleep mode – sooner or later it will sit down.
And here the second weakness will appear: if the device does not have a transmitter, then it will have to not only be enclosed, but also picked up. And if they manage to find it before, then all efforts to introduce the bug will be in vain, no information will be obtained.
The situation is similar with camcorders. They can also be very compact and well camouflaged – right down to the camera in a water bottle. But they have more weaknesses than microphones – the battery life is shorter, and there is always a lens. It can be very small, but it will still be at least a little, but glare if light hits it.
There are special detector devices that detect suspicious glare, but you can try to search for the camera using a regular flashlight. The smaller the rest of the light, the better – the glare will be more noticeable.
Speaking of special devices, detectors, we mention the important problem of the market for devices for secretly receiving information and exposing them. Having become interested in them, you find yourself between two fires: Aliexpress with its offers of super-cheap and super-innovative gadgets and specialized stores offering devices from manufacturers with decades of experience. Usually advertised are hypersensitivity and generally overwhelming coolness. But no one guarantees that the device is a hundred times more expensive than a hundred times better.
Detecting bugs is a little easier if their operator also wants to make their life easier. Modern technologies have made devices that transmit data in real time quite affordable. But the laws of physics cannot be circumvented: if they transmit something, then you can detect or drown out the transmission channel.
The most common transmission channel is the radio band, i.e. Wi-Fi or cellular networks. Either the bug uses already available Wi-Fi (for example, a guest network), or somewhere near it an access point will be organized for it – pay attention to unfamiliar and powerful signal distributions nearby. If a new Wi-Fi network is suddenly added to your three familiar neighbors, it’s possible that villains have settled down there.
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