This company requested a technical surveillance countermeasures (TSCM) sweep. “We need to determine,” the General Counsel said, “if there are any covertly installed audio or video devices within the confines of the company’s corporate offices as well as several corporate vehicles and executive residences.”
The Hillard Heintze Solution
The scope of this physical and electronic assessment was broad. It included (1) use of laboratory-grade technical equipment to discover powered devices and determine if there presently is, or may have been, a compromise of sensitive information; (2) radio frequency spectrum analysis for locating transmitters and signals; (3) practical testing of phone systems for wiretaps, bridge taps, series taps and tape recorder starters; (4) examination and testing of phone lines, analysis of tone generation signals in both directions, and measurement of voltage drops; and (5) physical search addressing more than 20 methods of interception.
Impact on the Client
The Hillard Heintze technicians discovered several devices. A smartphone in the offices’ was being used as a video camera. It was operational, recording and monitoring video and audio activity in the immediate area. At the residence, a router was found connected to a camera in the office. A Global System for Mobile (GSM) communications cell phone “bug” was discovered in the storage area behind the dash display of the last vehicle inspected. The Hillard Heintze technicians immediately notified the Security Director, who said this device was concealed as a ”test device” to validate the capabilities of the Hillard Heintze technicians. On-scene inspection of this device indicated it was inoperable. Further examination in our technology lab revealed that in its current condition, this device would be unusable even if a SIM card were added. These types of devices are a major threat in the world of corporate espionage. Finding them can help avoid millions of dollars in business, financial and reputational consequences.
A FRANK OPINION: The Project Manager’s Post-Engagement Perspective
“For many businesses, the value of a TSCM sweep is in assurance. As one prevention measure integrated into other facets of physical and technical security, it provides management with confidence that risks to the loss or compromise of sensitive information are being appropriately managed. But sometimes, like in this case, devices are discovered. By that time, the fox has already been in the hen house.”