As published in PI Magazine January / February 2019 issue:
PIGEAR- TSCM Technical Surveillance Countermeasures
The PI’s basic equipment needs
By Jim Nanos and Leif Kehrein
TSCM / Countermeasures is an inexact word. It covers a large number of actions, devices and equipment.
Business has changed and so has surveillance on both the good guys side and the not so good guys. As a professional Investigator you may be retained by a client who suspects his or her business is at risk or may have become the target of some form of electronic surveillance, or “bugging”.
The advent of low-cost, inexpensive surveillance equipment has resulted in an epidemic of illegal surveillance in both the private and business worlds. Today almost anyone can troll any online auction sites or mass sales sites and anonymously purchase equipment to “spy” on their neighbors, ex-spouses, co-workers or in the place of business. A quick jump over to any of the on-line video “how to” sites and anyone with even a rudimentary knowledge can be up and running an illegal surveillance in no time.
On the flip side of this is the “professional” who has chosen to go rouge and sets up an illegal surveillance. These are usually “for profit” operations where a rouge employee, or former employee steals a password of another or hacks into the business system to steal intellectual property to either sell to a competitor or otherwise damage his former or current employer. This has been going on for years and is the “old school” approach in the corporate world.
Today we have seen a marked increase in the placement of illegal surveillance equipment in both the private and professional settings for any of the above reasons or worse!
I’ll take a moment and illustrate two examples of cases I recently had the opportunity to work on.
CASE NUMBER ONE:
After a long and drawn out divorce, the former husband was not satisfied with what he believed was an unfair settlement and division of martial property. It was later learned the husband wanted to humiliate and embarrass his former wife in both the public and within their family after learning the former wife was in a relationship with a still married man.
While visiting his children at his former residence, he surreptitiously set up a hidden, wifi enabled camera in the bedroom closet of his former wife showing a bed view. Over the next several weeks he collected very personal audio and video of his ex-wife and the other man. He then posted it on an anonymous pornographic video site and began to text the videos links to friends and family with the use of a burner phone.
CASE NUMBER TWO:
An employee of a local manufacturer of high-tech engine components had assisted in the development of a component that was subsequently patented and marketed by his employer for substantial financial benefit to the company. The employee who in reality only had a very small part in the development, felt he should have received a hefty royalty or other compensation for his part. When no money was offered, he decided to obtain and release as much intellectual property and information belonging to his employer as possible and offer it for sale to a competitor.
This employee secreted a wifi enable audio device in the main conference room of the executive offices and began to collect audio from sensitive corporate meetings. These meetings included development plans and business strategy for the company moving forward as well as sensitive financial discussions within the company and the executives. He then began to offer this information for sale to competitors overseas via anonymous emails.
In both of these cases, the victims became aware of the situations and this is where the Professional Investigator often enters the picture!
Complex devices and investigations require effective solutions. The days of buying an off the shelf item to disassemble and use for covert motives have gone. Modern devices are made for surveillance and designed to operate without being detected. You need to equip yourself with equipment that won’t be obsolete as soon as the next threat arrives.
Just a few years ago, the world of technical surveillance counter measures (TSCM) was a dark, cloak and dagger world of those with training from agencies most of us didn’t even know exist! Today, the training and TSCM equipment is readily available and affordable to almost every professional investigator.
The average professional investigator may not want to personally take on the scanning of a 100,000 square foot, multi-story corporate building as in case number two above. Most of us would “refer” this case to someone with the proper equipment to handle this case, and work with them or receive a commission for the referral.
The same professional investigator would easily be able to handle the situation in case number one with the proper equipment and training. Not many of us cannot afford to invest several hundred thousands of dollars into the equipment that may be needed to do large scale commercial properties, however, high quality, professional equipment is available today from sources such as PI GEAR.
We’ve taken a few items and packages detailed below as examples of some of professional grade TSCM equipment available and suggested to be used by most professional investigators who have the need for TSCM debugging work or scanning vehicles for GPS tracers etc.
The premier TSCM kit, DD2000 available at PI GEAR features multiple detection units with each item being purposely designed for the intermediate to expert – most of us!
This kit can be used as a complete countermeasure sweep suite by your team or each unit can be deployed individually. The kit contains the following TSCM equipment is package, kit form, or individual pieces can be purchased in that is what is desired.
These pieces all have some great on-line videos available to give you some basic instructions on the use and deployment. More detailed training is available and suggested.
This unit is a 3-band detection device that will search all 3 bands at simultaneously “VHF/UHF 50-700 MHz", "Mobile and wireless 700 MHz – 3 GHz" and "Microwave and wireless 3-12 GHz"
The three-band display will help the user to see and identify signals in real time for each band. The results of this are that interference, of which most detectors will mask a device while the 3 Band DD1216 will maintain the separation so you can find analog and digital audio and video devices.
When Using the one band feature, for dedicated searches, the display acts as a histogram that keeps a history of the last5 seconds and is very informative when observing intermittent “Burst Type” signals.
This is the most user-friendly multi-channel detection device on the market that will monitor 6 channels simultaneously; this unit is especially good for live location-based GPS trackers. “live tracking” uses an independent signal to send the GPS coordinates from the tracker to the receiver.
Each 10-segment bar graph represents a different set of frequencies. CDMA/LTE800 (4G) standard, GSM 900 standard ,GSM 1900 and CDMA 1900 or GSM 1800,WCDMA (UMTS, 3G), most of the modern DECT telephones or as above plus GSM 1900 and CDMA 1900, Wi-Fi access points and adapters, Bluetooth devices, All transmitters in the range of 2.5-7 G?z, including most kinds of the Wi-Max, Wi-Fi High/LTE (4G) protocols.
Also prevalent in the GSM band a small easily obtainable “GSM Bugs” the DD1207 will locate them and again with the separate bands you can quickly determine if a signal is worth investigating further.
The DD1206 is a sophisticated handheld radio frequency detection device that includes the ability to detect nearly any type of wireless protocol including digital frequencies such as Wi-Fi and analog frequencies reaching up to 12Ghz in range. Frequency range, Antenna #1: 50MHz – 12Ghz.
Antenna 2, GHz: 2.4 - 2.48 / 4.9 - 5.875
This unit is sensitive to Wi-Fi and Bluetooth at long range and with a built-in attenuator you can decrease sensitivity on the device to get close to a powerful signal or to dampen stronger signals. Using the 2 different antennas, individually, you can literally point at a signal to locate it. The correlation feature helps to determine the location of a device when a feedback loop is present.
This is the highest quality camera finder on the market designed for rugged use and to be often. Designed to locate hidden cameras, it will locate most hidden cameras by identifying the cameras lens rather than wireless transmitting signals. Using a LED light with an adjustable frequency you can see, through the viewing port, a bright reflection of the camera lens and determine the location of hidden pinhole cameras. Pinhole lenses are made in such a way that this device will be able to reflect light back to the user indicating exactly where the camera is. It does not matter if the camera is turned on or even functional, you can find the pinhole lens. This device is easy to use, and very portable rooms can be quickly checked for cameras.
The RF signal detector wand is an overall detection device. It covers the frequency range of 50MHz-8GHz. Easily concealable you can use this device when a quick private search is required. Set this item to vibrate and Slip it into your sleeve or jacket pocket. Small and discreet the DD12051 is great for short range covert or body sweeps.
As you can see, this is a professional grade package. The investment can be made and is within most of our budgets. The investment can easily be recouped on just a few cases.
If you’ve been Kicking the tires” on a TSCM equipment purchase, we suggest looking at these pieces. All can be viewed at PIGEAR.COM under the TSCM equipment pages.
Jim Nanos and Leif Kehrein
Jim Nanos is the owner of Apple Investigations based in New Jersey and the co-publisher of PI MAGAZINE. Leif Kehrein is the TSCM technical advisor at KJB Security and an expert in the field of TSCM equipment.