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About Bug Sweeps

Bug sweeps, Eavesdropping detection, Countermeasures, etc, refers to the searching of bugging devices that gather audio, video, internet, mobile or other data, without a person's knowledge. The widely-used term for this is Technical Surveillance Countermeasures or TSCM. Needless to say that the targetted victim(s) of buggers forego their privacy and their safety is jeapordised. The only solution is to call in a TSCM specialist with specialist equipment, and they will apply experience and technical expertise to locate the wide range of threats and to make sure no stone is left unturned.

Specialist equipment is required to aid in TSCM manual searches of home or company premises, to include a survey of electric circuits, phone lines and wireless transmissions. If there are optical sensors in the room, we'll find them too. Snooping devices are available in spy shops and from the internet and most are simple to install. Some are battery-powered, with limited lifespan but some can be attached to an electrical circuit or phone line, and they can transmit indefinitely. The areas where devices can be placed is almost limitless.

The specialist equipment required to locate bugging devices goes far beyond those generally offered for sale (at a few hundred pounds) and fully-equipped TSCM specialists typically invest many thousands to get the job done.

Reliable eavesdropping devices such as cameras, microphones, transmitters, keyloggers etc are available and quite affordable to anyone who wants to get hold of them. They are becoming more compact and easier to conceal, and most are not limited to short-range transmissions so the perpetrator could be anywhere; GSM bugs can be listened-in from anywhere in the world. These GSM devices work on the same principle as a mobile phone.

The prevalence of personal surveillance is all too obvious and we read newspaper articles about it almost daily. In family/domestic situations, neighbour disputes, as part of corporate espionage, media-related nosing around, peeking tom voyeurists, theft operations, blackmail campaigns, monitoring staff, stalking, and much more. Expect to hear even more about this kind of thing as time goes on.

Most people (even astute people, with security training) would be unaware how vulnerable they are. Listening / recording devices, covert cameras, trackers; at home, in the workplace, fitted to vehicles, installed on computers, hacked on phones etc. collecting email, email contacts, financial transactions, keyboard typing, sites visited. WiFi, online chatting / conversations, mobile text messages and general mobile phone hacking, paper waste, surveillance and tracking of movements - all would probably go unnoticed to most people, making an easy target for the cunning eavesdropper. Such people include unscrupulous private investigators, journalists, ex-husbands, landlords, competitors, thieves, predators, neighbours, or general lowlifes with time on their hands that have an interest in you and the illegal and covert gathering of your information.

TSCM: Technical Surveillance Counter Measures

Some clients may just require telephone lines inspected to make sure that they are bug free while other clients may need a full TSCM sweep in the home or work place.

What kind of information does the bugger wish to obtain? Is this sought-after information? What opportunities have there been to plant devices?

The first step is to decide whether there should be a covert or overt sweep or you may decide that it doesn't matter either way. It might be that no listening devices are expected to be found but that confirmation of bug free areas are required for continued privacy and to protect your loved ones or business clients.

In many instances, it is usually more appropriate to run a sweep when staff, visitors or family members are away from the building concerned - Stop the Buggers have flexible working times to allow for this. It is recommended not to divulge the intended countermeasures operation which may alert the perpetrator too early. When we find bugs, we can advise on how an internal surveillance operation of your own can catch the bugger in the act of removing the evidence. Stop the Buggers knows every trick in the book - we wrote most if it!

If regular repeat sweeps are likely, we can keep graphs, photographs and other result information for future comparison, including the use of discreet anti-tamper seals that make any repeat sweeps, quicker and less expensive.

Only experience can tell you how much time to spend on a physical inspection before moving onto the sweeping and telephone analysis. We usually discover just as many bugs through physical inspection than when using specialist detection equipment. Old-fashioned detective intuition is often required, and being able to recognise telltale signs of tampering eg dust disturbances, fingerprints in odd places, screws recently turned, items displaced, presence of new paint etc. When a device is found, sometimes clues can be gained as to whom may have installed it and where a receiver may be located, plus fingerprints may be present.

Initial physical inspection of hard-wired systems is always recommended, where possible. A bugger will nearly always prefer to use pre-existing wiring to get the signal to the outside world, where it can be recorded or transmitted. Common targets exploited for bugging are phone and fax lines, TV, and alarm cables. All wiring should be inspected for any signs of tampering. As well as checking the telephone lines, all telephone plugs and fittings need to be inspected carefully. A conference room may be physically searched in a short period of time where a room with lots of equipment and or furnishings will always take longer.

Recognising bugs and threats

Devices designed to compromise privacy are becoming more sophisticated, powerful, reliable and easily available every year. Trackers for vehicles etc are costing less, battery times and reliability are increasing, and so many are purchased every day - most private detective web sites and spy shops offer vehicle tracking services and stock spying devices. Innocent-looking plug-in chargers or plug-in anything, can disguise audio and video monitors.

With so much eletronics all around us, noticing something sinister is nigh impossible. Nevertheless, Stop the Buggers can pick apart the mundane from the malicious - purpose-made light bulbs, sophisticated surveillance networks, custom sensors or mass-produced dross from China - is all fair game to us. Surveillance technology might have moved on in leaps and bounds, but so has the equipment used by Stop the Buggers. We are always one step ahead.

Small GSM devices can covertly send your conversations to any part of the world yet only cost a few pounds. They can be planted in pens, calculators, tape dispensers, plug sockets, plug adapters, extension leads, smoke alarms, clocks, radios, air fresheners, clothes hooks, phone chargers and so many other innocent-looking everyday objects found in homes, offices and about us generally. Many are "old hat" but are still often discovered during our TSCM inspections alongside these hightech variants.

Since we started in this line of work back in the early 90`s, we have located more eavesdropping devices in use every year; 2015 was a bumper harvest for us and 2016 will no doubt see an even larger increase in sales and use of devices designed to compromise people's security. Do-it-yourself bug detecting sweep gadgets available from spy shops or online cannot be relied upon, as they are usually not fit for purpose. Professional buggers will have already tested their bugging equipment against these commonly-sold "toy detectors". There are very few manufacturers of professional countermeasures equipment in the world, and they are expensive and require expertise to operate.

Although professionally-fitted bugs can be found on mains wiring and phone lines for example, most of what we find has been put in place by everyday people with little or no expertise. Nevertheless, even an amateur can be very effective at prying into your daily life, being able to obtain your private information with hardly any risk, that is, until Stop the Buggers gets involved.

Specialised, up-to-date countermeasures equipment must be competently used in conjunction with a sound knowledge of where to look and what to look for. There really is no substitute for experience in the countermeasures industry. Those offering a service with little or no genuine experience, should be mindful of the potential legal implications! Adequate Professional Indemnity and Public Liability cover should always be in place.

It is not a good idea upon finding a bug to pack up the equipment, thinking that the sweep has been completed. We have swept buildings and located more than one bug on many occasions. The bugger is hoping that in finding the first device, all further search efforts would be terminated.

Stop the Buggers is a successful long-standing company with a solid reputation for professionalism and trusted results. The last thing you want, is to be concerned whether or not the bug sweeping service you paid for has been sufficiently thorough. Stop the Buggers will put your mind at ease.

Stop the Buggers
Main Office

The Broadway,

Tel. 01892 258 258