A comprehensive guide to professional search for hidden cameras and spyware
Without a doubt, this is the most comprehensive guide to the detection of working hidden cameras and tracking devices.
We will show you effective strategies on how to clean up most of the rooms from hidden cameras and bugs, without using super-expensive equipment to combat surveillance or to attract a third-party company.
Most of the processes and steps that we show you are taken from our best government agencies, for which the fight against surveillance is vital, so these technologies are tested and tested. And, most importantly, anyone can repeat it!
In the article we describe the exact step-by-step process that we use to search for hidden tracking devices and cameras. Let's start!
Finding hidden cameras and devices becomes a necessity.
Over the past couple of years, we have witnessed an increase in the number of cases of unfair use of hidden cameras and spy equipment, to the detriment of visitors to cruise liners, hotels, apartments and houses surrendering through Airbnb, and so on. Unfortunately, this trend is not going to decline anytime soon, but you can take action and make sure that you do not fall victim to it. In this article we will show exactly how this can be done.
What devices can be used against you?
Before checking the premises, it is necessary to determine what type of equipment will be used against you in a certain situation.
For example, if you spend the night in a hotel or in a room with breakfast, you can certainly find surveillance equipment designed to capture compromising videos or photos of residents.
If you are in a place where business meetings are held, for example, in a meeting room, you can assume that among the information gathered here may be important conversations. Most likely, in such a situation, a device for recording audio will be used.
Consider such factors when looking around the room, and pay attention to the most vulnerable and compromising places in the room.
Break the search for bugs into the following steps.
Step 1: Entering the room, assume the presence of surveillance
If you are staying at a hotel or an apartment with an Airbnb for the first time, automatically assume that you are being watched and recorded. Relax, however - no need to panic!
Most likely you are not being watched, but in order to verify this at 100%, you must still check the premises.
Chances of finding a hidden camera are very small.
Compare this with the use of a seat belt in a car. Most likely, you will not need it, but if it comes in handy, you will be glad that you used it. Therefore, it is always better to assume that you are being recorded, unless you are 100% sure that there is no tracking equipment in the room.
Step 2: Break the room into quadrants
Stand in the center of the room. Break it into quadrants. After identifying them and starting points, process each quadrant in turn, using the technologies described here.
Splitting a room into sections will allow you to systematically and thoroughly check the room and clean each section without missing a single detail.
Step 3: Start with a simple observation.
Carefully inspect the room, paying attention to anything that catches your eye or seems suspicious. Are there duplicate items in the room? Clocks, smoke detectors, coffee pots. Are there any unusual holes in the walls or ceiling? Are things in the room unusual?
Check all the devices - TV, clock, telephone, hairdryer, coffee pot - if they have any sticking wires, suspicious light bulbs, or something else that looks abnormal.
Step 4: Check each outlet and determine what is plugged in.
All surveillance devices require a power source; whether the device is powered from a power outlet or from a battery depends on what your expected duration of stay in the room is and whether the attacker has access to it.
Devices with batteries work for a limited time, and those that work from electrical outlets can be used for continuous and long-term observation.
Check the sockets, determine everything in them. Carefully inspect everything that looks as if it is out of place.
What about video surveillance and audio recording?
Any device for recording video will be located so as to provide the best opportunity for shooting. For example, the device for video surveillance will be sent to the bathroom, to the place in front of the closet where the person changes clothes, or to the bed. It is important to remember all the bottlenecks and places of frequent movement that cause residents to follow a certain path or occupy a certain place in the room.
Among the places that need to pay attention - the door to the bathroom, front door and all the corridors / hallways.
Red - bottlenecks, green - vulnerable. You need to look for cameras that can be sent to these places.
It is important to pay special attention to the places where conversations are usually held. If someone wants to place tracking equipment in the room in order to record a conversation with good quality, he will place the device in places where people usually gather.
It is worth paying attention to the beds, tables, couches, chairs and balconies.
Objects vulnerable to installing spyware
Do all the devices and accessories in your room coincide with other objects in your room or in the whole house? Are any of them located in strange places or in a strange way? Do they vary from room to room?
Pay attention to smoke detectors, thermostats, sockets, plumbing fixtures and light bulbs. Common sense dictates that all these devices should be similar to each other, as they usually appear in a room or building during construction.
This observation may reveal an anomaly that is worth investigating in more detail. Are there different devices in different rooms that are located in a strange way or in strange places? During the research room you should ask yourself similar questions and go into the study of subjects in case of suspicion.
Do the pictures match the decoration or style of the room or house where you stay? Most often, hotels and rented dwellings have a general style of decoration.
For example, in a modern hotel, most likely, decorations, plumbing, furniture and appliances will be modern. In a rural hotel with breakfast there may be more dilapidated furniture with old-fashioned charm. Pay attention to plumbing and decorations that are suspicious.
Know the amenities offered
You should always be well aware of the services and amenities offered where you stay and compare them with the actual devices and amenities available in your room.
For example, if there is one coffee pot in the room description, and you see two, examine them for anomalies. If coffee is offered in the dining room, should there be a coffee pot in your room? Is there a few hours in the room?
Most sites will list the proposed amenities and devices, but you can always ask questions at the reception if you are not sure what you should have in your room.
If there is a tile in the room on the ceiling, is it part of the suspended ceiling or built into the ceiling? Are there holes in it? Does any of the tiles stand out from the rest, does it stick out?
If the ceiling tiles can be easily raised, examine them and make sure that the tracking devices are not hidden above them.
Check the mirrors
It is recommended to always check all the mirrors in the room to make sure that they are not bilateral. The best way to check is to use your finger. Reflection of a finger in most mirrors will not touch your finger if you rest it directly in the mirror. Between the reflection and the finger there should be a gap of about 5 mm.
If you touch the mirror with your finger, and the reflection in it touches the finger, you need to examine the mirror in more detail.
It is important to note that in places such as bars or gas stations, instead of ordinary mirrors a mirror film can be used on a metal base that looks like a double-sided mirror. This is done in order to avoid possible glass fragments that are dangerous to visitors.
Another test technology is to turn off the light and shine a flashlight in the mirror to see if there is something behind it.
Go deep further
After completing a visual and physical review, it is recommended to closely examine all suspicious objects, devices, or places, using several easy-to-use and inexpensive devices for tracking detection. With their help, it will be possible to find devices that are not visible during visual inspection.
Step 1: Buy a Radio Detector
Most long-term monitoring devices will require a way to transmit information to the observer. The bug detector scans the selected area in search of devices that emit radio signals, and upon detecting them, produces an audible signal that changes as it approaches or moves away from the source. In this way, the user can eventually discover a device that emits radio waves.
Commercial tracking devices transmit signals in the range from 10 MHz to 8 GHz. Most bug detectors will detect them by scanning from 10 Hz up to 24 GHz. Professional detectors have a wider range, and besides this there is also a bunch of special features. However, such devices are very expensive and can cost you hundreds or thousands of dollars.
Your particular situation determines the level of detection you need. An ordinary person who uses a detector to check a room in a hotel or an apartment taken through AirBnB can do with a simple device that recognizes and locates unknown sources of radio signals. A high-quality detector that can cope with such a task can be bought for as little as $ 100.
Step 2: Get a camera lens detector
Radio signal detectors are capable of detecting wireless devices transmitting information. What about independent devices storing information on a flash card? To detect them you need a lens detector.
It detects the reflection of light from the lenses of a video recording camera. When it is used on the screen of the device, the lenses are highlighted or give off glare, and so the user learns about their presence in the room.
You can search for universal devices that can simultaneously recognize radio signals and camera lenses — for example, the Lawmate Defender DD802 is a good choice. This is a professional-grade device that effectively detects cameras and radio signals.
Step 3: Turn off all devices that emit radio signals.
Before starting to inspect a room, it is important to turn off all devices that, in principle, can emit radio signals. Disconnect all phones, Bluetooth devices, laptops, tablets, etc.
It would also be a good idea to check your detector by turning it on and swiping it near the phone. If he is able to recognize the frequencies of the signals emitted by the telephone, then he is working correctly.
Step 4: do the checking with the help of the wall “painting” technique
Select the border of one of the quadrants and start painting walls. This means that you just need to drive the detector up and down the wall, slowly and methodically, while inspecting them visually. You must inspect the walls for any damage or anomalies while listening to the sensor.
Paint the walls until you reach the end of the quadrant. Having found nothing, mark the quadrant as free from devices, and proceed to the next.
Step 5: Paint the walls with a camera lens detector.
Repeat the process in each quadrant in the same painting pattern using a camera lens detector.
Step 6: Turn Off The Light
Turn off the lights and look for unusual point sources of light. Many spy cameras have a LED indicating the start of recording or the presence of power. If the observer did not bother to turn off the indicator, you can use their mistake to your advantage by seeing and finding such a camera.
Step 7: use the phone
To record video at night, most spy cameras will need infrared lights, illuminating the scene so that you can record in complete darkness.
Infrared radiation is ideal for use in covert surveillance, because the human eye does not recognize it. Visible waves are in the range from 390 to 700 nm, and infrared - from 700 to 1,000,000 nm.
One of the quick and effective ways to notice infrared radiation is to use the front camera of the phone. Unlike the main camera, it does not have an infrared filter, and it easily recognizes infrared light in the dark.
Take any remote control that sends infrared signals to a controlled device, and start taking photographs from the front camera of the phone. Point the remote control at the camera and press any button. Invisible eye infrared light will be visible on the screen. When inspecting a room, remember that infrared light is easy to hide from an unsuspecting victim of observation.
What about thermal imagers?
Another device that helps detect tracking equipment that you need to know about is a thermal imager. Any tracking device, whether it records video, audio, or emits infrared rays, will emit some thermal radiation that is easy to detect with a thermal imager.
Most surveillance cameras are hot enough because of their small size and because they are usually hidden inside an object that is not suspicious and does not provide good ventilation.
You can use, for example, a device such as FLIR ONE Gen 3 - it connects to a smartphone and allows you to use it as a thermal imager.
This imager will allow you to find hot spots in the room using the phone. Having found such a point in the wall, behind a picture, in a smoke detector, behind any other device or in another place that seems unusual or suspicious, you can investigate this anomaly. It will be wise to carefully inspect this place for tracking devices.
What to do when a tracking device is detected
If you find a device for surveillance, do not touch it. Get out of his sight and call the police.
Most modern security cameras use motion detection and ring recording on a flash card. In many cases, because of this, the attacker accidentally recorded himself at the moment when he installed the camera and then left the scene.
Leaving the camera’s view, you reduce the chances that a new video will overwrite the old one when the flash card is filled. If the attacker recorded his image on the camera, it is better to minimize the chances that this record will be overwritten by a new one.