Protecting Corporations And Other Industries For Over 25 Years



What Is A Bug?

The most often thought that comes to mind is of a miniature transmitter placed behind a picture frame, in a potted plant, in a desk or perhaps in a floor lamp. But, have you ever really considered what a "bug" is, or how it operates? What frequencies does it operate on?

A "bug", in most instances, is a transmitting device. It consists generally of a microphone, audio amplifier circuit, a radio frequency an circuit, an antenna and a power supply. Size will depend on the application, ranging from the size of a pack of cigarettes to as small as a pencil eraser. Commonly, most are about the size of a quarter which includes the battery.

As for the range in frequencies, the "bug" can be built to operate anywhere from below the standard AM broadcast radio band to above the commercial microwave frequencies of 40 GHz. The biggest threat is from those operating from approximately 70 MHz to about 300 MHz, simply because it is easier to build them for these frequencies. These frequencies use less power to operate. The antennas are shorter, component selection is less critical and better transmitting range is realized.

One of the things most often asked is, "where is the greatest threat when looking for a "bug." The largest percentage of devices are found in the "amateur spy band" of approximately 70 MHz to 130 MHz. Why? Simply because more devices are constructed and available which work in these particular ranges.  It takes no sophistication and very little money to construct these transmitters. Kits can be bought for $30.00 and up and contain about $5.00 worth of parts. They and can be constructed in as little time as a couple of hours (taking time out for a coffee break) and can transmit a signal in excess of a mile. 

A little more sophisticated are those devices in the 150 MHz to 300 MHz range, only because more care must be taken in their construction, but they are equally as effective.  Most signals encountered will be in clear text, either AM or FM. Where we start running into problems is when the intelligence on the signal is manipulated. This comes about by the various means of modulating a signal, such as transmitting an AM carrier with an FM sub-carrier, or an FM signal with an AM sub-carrier.  

Another step up the line is the pulse position or pulse amplitude method of modulation. the top of the line is generally considered to be "spread spectrum signals" in which the signal is spread over a very wide frequency range versus a very narrow frequency range for other signals.  The "bugs" sensitivity and transmitting range will be directly proportional to their size. The smaller "bugs" will have a limited range. Eavesdroppers have been known to employ relay transmitters. A relay transmitter receives the weak signal from the target area and automatically re-transmits the signal to a more distant point.  

A sophisticated approach to bugging is the remotely controlled "bug". This type of "bug" is used to foil detection and to conserve battery life.   

If you have any indication that a "bug" has been planted in your area of responsibility you should contact a reputable countermeasure firm that has the expertise and technical equipment to detect and neutralize a technical attack. 

#radiofrequency #range #frequencies #broadcast #microwave #bugs #circuits #electronicbug #eavesdrop

Learn about methodologies

Want to see more about the methodologies used in our work?

Learn more

Phone Taps


What Is A Phone Tap?

Most people use the term "bug" when discussing the various ways in which information can be extracted from an area. This is generally an all inclusive term which encompasses everything placed on the telephone lines. In reality, there are two different types of attack with two different names. How should they be described?

In the simplest description, a "bug" is generally an externally powered device which radiates (transmits) a signal containing intelligence, whereas a "tap" is an attachment normally made to a pair of lines for the purpose of recording or monitoring intelligence, be it audio, video or data.  In describing a "tap", generally the first thing that comes to mind is the telephone tap. As glamorized on television, it is thought of as a "drop-in" microphone which transmits the conversation taking place within a room. This method of attack is, in reality, a "bug" and not a "tap".

Also, on occasion, we see on television the eavesdropper sitting in an office or basement with headphones listening to conversations on the telephone. This is a fairly true representation of what happens, but there are more ways of "tapping". They can range from the crude attack hooking a sound-powered telephone repairman’s handset directly to the lines, to the more sophisticated method of using a high impedance device between the lines and a recorder or amplifier, to using an inductive device in which the telephone or lines are not physically altered.  If the telephone instrument has not been modified, then the only time it can be monitored is when the telephone is in actual use. However, with any one of a number of simple to sophisticated attacks, it is possible to "listen in" at all times to everything that is being said in the vicinity of the telephone.

Eavesdroppers can install in-line "series" or "parallel" transmitters on the telephone line in which no external power supplies are necessary - power is taken from the telephone lines. No antenna or microphone is required. These devices can be placed at any point along the telephone line and from the telephone to the nearest switching equipment. They can be as large as the cover on a fountain pen or they can be as small as a dime.

The operating frequency can range from as low as 30 MHz to over 1200 MHz. That is not to say this is the only range of frequencies in which they will be found, only that it is easier to build the devices to operate within these ranges.

Other attacks that can be made on the telephone include the manipulation (bending) of contacts on the hookswitch, the addition of jumpers in the telephone, or the installation of resistors or capacitors. These attacks will allow your conversations to be monitored regardless of whether the telephone is on hook or not.

The techniques discussed above are not to be considered the only attacks possible to a telephone system. They are just a representative sampling. 

#phonebug #findabug #findaphonebug #wiretap #ismyphonetapped #bug #electronicbug

Electronic bugs

Think You Found An Electronic Bug?

It looks like we found something! What do we do next? Let’s go through the proper procedure step by step. First, don’t say or do anything to alert the eavesdropper that we may be on to his operation. Never, never, assume that there is only one device, a "silent search" must continue. After it has been determined that all devices have been located, a decision must be made by the client. We suggest one of three choices: 

  1. Leave the device(s) in place and feed it false information.  
  2. Disable the device(s) in an attempt to lure the eavesdropper to return to repair it.  
  3. Remove it.   

If client decides to call a law enforcement officer, the device must not be disturbed and the area must be secured as a "crime scene" until law enforcement officers and/or telephone company security personnel arrive to take over the scene and initiate their investigation.   Before anything happens, the devices and surrounding area must be searched and photographed by the Technical Surveillance Countermeasure (TSCM) team. The possibility of the device being "booby trapped" cannot be dismissed lightly. Intelligence agencies and some professional eavesdroppers have been known to use plastic explosives to destroy the device as it is removed so it cannot be analyzed.   
If the device was powered by 110 volts, it must be assumed that all conversations which took place in the target area, since the last TSCM search, has been compromised. The same assumption must be made if the device was powered by a battery.  

If the device is a battery operated live transmitter, a fairly accurate estimate can be made as to how long the device has been operating and how long it will continue.   
The client must be interviewed to ascertain the following: What has happened or what is about to happen in the area where the device was found. Who has had access to the area. Consider where the device was placed and how long it would take to make the installation. What is the level of building security and who would have a motive. Could an "insider" have knowingly or unknowingly made the installation.  

The sophistication of the device(s) may give us a lead to the proficiency of the eavesdropper.   
A sloppy homemade or Radio Shack device would indicate an amateur. A well made,  mass-produced commercial device could indicate a semi-professional or a government installation. An exotic, expensive, or custom made unit tells us that we are dealing with a cunning professional eavesdropper.   

Next we should consider the probable range of the device, the frequency, power output, and location in the room. With all this information, we still face a most difficult task in an attempt to locate the listening post, plus a next to impossible task of learning the identity of the eavesdropper and his client. 

#radiofrequency #range #frequencies #broadcast #microwave #bugs #circuits #electronicbug #eavesdrop