Where do spies hide bugs?

Where are you likely to be targeted by listening devices?

Offices, boardrooms, internal telephone systems, mobile phones and computers are the places where most people believe that bugs might be concealed by hostile operatives looking to steal secrets.

However it is clear to industry insiders that eavesdropping is not confined to offices alone. In fact canny spies are liable to gather data in a wide range of other locations. Anywhere that a target goes, the spies are likely to follow. Listening devices are so small, light and easy to conceal that they can be put almost anywhere.

  • Private Homes are a prime target, because this is where people are relaxed and off guard. Therefore, audio bugs are likely to pick up unguarded conversations that might never be spoken in an office environment.
  • Corporate Apartments come a close second to private homes. There is the added problem that the occupant may not know the environment intimately and therefore would be less likely to discover a concealed or disguised bug.
  • Cars can be traced and bugged with comparative ease by attaching magnetised devices to the car exterior. Sadly, this is the work of a moment for a skilled operative.
  • Planes require pilots but these are usually vetted. However, ground crew have access to the same planes at regular intervals. Regular sweeping of suspect jets is the only sure fire way to ensure that your corporate jet is not leaking your corporate secrets.
  • Boats are prone to similar risks as planes and cars
  • Public Places is a surprising idea for many people, but if a target has a regular routine (lunches in a favourite restaurant for example) then surveillance operatives are quite prepared to bug the restaurant and wait for the target to turn up.

Bugs are often disguised as other non-threatening devices. If the devices are electrical in nature this helps the spy as most non-professionals are not likely to understand that they have actually seen a bug even if the enclosing device is opened or damaged revealing the bug circuitry inside.

However sometimes bugs are concealed at a manufacturing stage so as to completely hide the devices. For example at the Sokus Hotel in Estonia the KGB hid audio bugs in the dinner plates allowing them to listen to conversations for decades.

In conclusion, it is clear that almost anywhere can be a location where a determined spy could seek to bug a target. The best defence against this is for a potential target to be aware of the fact. To think before speaking about sensitive matters and to ask experts to employ Technical Surveillance Counter Measures (TSCM) to keep private conversations private.