Is your office bugged? How safe is your work environment? Are your phone calls as confidential as you think they are or is someone listening in on your conversations? Business security sweeps are now an everyday workplace necessity. The higher a business profile, the more necessary for business security sweeps.

TSCM sweeps

A technical surveillance countermeasure sweep is known by many names – bug sweeping, TSCM inspection, electronic countersurveillance and many more. But they all mean one thing – an electronic and a physical inspection of a property/room/premises/building/vehicle.

Make bug sweeping an office policy

All companies should look at TSCM or bug sweeps as a part of their regular security policy. Budgeting must include TSCM as well. How frequently a company should do a bug sweep will depend on the company and the level of threat against them at a particular point in time.

If your company has a lot of sensitive information, you would want to ensure you have a TSCM sweep routinely and at more regular intervals. If your company feels that it is losing data even with regular TSCM sweeps, then it should launch an investigation and hire external counter-espionage experts if necessary.

Bug sweeping

It’s no surprise that most of us have limited knowledge of eavesdropping devices. But did you know that 99% of the capabilities of bugging devices that are depicted on screen are not technically possible?

One thing is for sure, and that is that levels of both industrial and economic espionage have been on the rise in recent years. Eavesdropping equipment is available easily enough online, and anyone with a credit card can buy one.

Finding a reliable TSCM company

A thorough TSCM sweep is the only way of ensuring your premises are clear of bugs. However, hiring a TSCM company is not an easy task, and it’s important that you find a provider who:

  • Has actually attended a recognised TSCM academy.
  • Has proper TSCM bug sweeping equipment
  • Conducts sweeps regularly.
  • Is knowledgeable, experienced, and has state-of-art equipment.

Protocol covered by a reliable bug sweeping agency

A professional and reliable bug sweeping agency will carry out a systematic seep that is based on protocol. They will conduct:

  •  A thorough physical search.
  • V light sweeps in vents, AC receptacles and other small hiding areas. Once an area is completely scanned, it is marked.
  • Audio spectrum analysing search of low Hz and high GHz ranges.
  • Thermal imaging sweep to detect heat signatures within walls and furniture.
  • Telephone PBX and physical lines analysis.
  • Inspection of computers and LAN connections.
  • Inspection of printers and computer output devices.
  • X-ray of items if/when required.
  • Oscilloscope survey to look for changes of an electrical signal over time.
  • Installation of transducers; auto jamming devices.
  • VLF, microwave and ultrasonic detection.
  • Removing eavesdropping devices
  • Removing spyware devices

What to do when your office is bugged?

If you suspect that your office is bugged, then just looking for spyware on your phone won’t help; you will also need to check your office premises for hidden cameras, mics and a variety of other eavesdropping tools that could be planted in your office. Conducting regular technical surveillance countermeasure inspections becomes necessary. Here’s what to do when your office is bugged, and you need to conduct your own business surveillance sweep.

Step 1: Conduct a physical check

Look around your surroundings carefully. Check for anything that is out of place. Bugs could be lodged in very inconspicuous areas and even planted in plain sight, without you realizing that what you are looking at is a bug.

Ensure that you can recognize all the devices connected to your router. Bugs require a power supply – although some also work on a battery (but will have a limited power supply). Follow visible wires and check where they originate. Check outlets, extension cords and crowded power strips that are often ignored.

Step 2: Scan the room with detectors

Once a physical check is conducted, you can run various types of scanning tools to conduct a more advanced check. Try conducting multiple types of sweeps rather than using a general approach. Radiofrequency detectors can detect transmitters in a room.

Step 3: Conduct advanced checks 

Non-linear junction detectors can detect bugs that manage to remain undetected by physical checks and checks with radio scanners as they can obfuscate their radiofrequency. Non-linear junction detectors are bug sweep equipment that can help detect semiconductor electronics. However, even benign objects – like a nail in the wall, can create a false positive. 

It’s important to keep in mind that bugs always require a way to deliver data that they are gathering back to their owners. So, deep bug sweeps that are not just electronic detectors are necessary. These deep bug sweeps will require you to search for laser beams and microwave transmission setups. 

Step 4: Ensure regular upkeep 

Finally, business surveillance sweeps should not be a one-off event. The more regularly you conduct sweeps, the safer your environment. While there is a lot you can do yourself in terms of conducting a bug sweep, it’s always best to hire a reputed agency that can conduct thorough business surveillance sweeps searches of your office premises. 

See the 5 Elements to Cover in a Cyber Awareness Training Program!