Tuesday, November 15, 2016

TSCM School: How Small Can Electronic Surveillance Bugs Be?

...or, why we listen to the wires.

Electronic surveillance devices (audio, video, data) are often referred to by their generic term — bugs.
Amplified Mic (enlarged)
Bugs may be highly specialized, as in a video only spy camera, or may incorporate audio, video and data snooping. An example of this is a device which is secreted in a vehicle, which collects GPS data, audio and video.

Most people, however, think of bugs as audio-only radio transmitters.

Often the simplest bugs are the most effective. These are just microphones attached to a length of wire.

The other end of the wire can be connected to a distant radio transmitter, voice recorder, or simply an amplifier with headphones.

Most people are surprised to learn all homes and offices come prewired, bugging-ready.

Standard telephone cables have unused pairs, and computer Ethernet cables generally only use two of the four pairs they contain. Most older office buildings also have legacy wiring which was never removed.

These "hardwired" bugs are among the most difficult to detect, which is why spies and law enforcement favor them.

Since a microphone is the main element of a hardwired bug,
I thought it might be very useful to show you how small they
can be.

These fingers are holding a real microphone, actual size.

Now you know just how much the other picture was enlarged.

Amazingly small, these microphones are mass produced by the millions.

Fortunately, most wind up in cell phones and hearing aids. However, many are sold on eBay for pennies, and then become bugs.

Not everyone knows how to find these. But, don't worry, we do.