Komputer Klinic: Spy tech - What's fact and what's fiction? - East Valley Tribune: Business

Komputer Klinic: Spy tech - What's fact and what's fiction?

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Posted: Sunday, July 6, 2008 5:09 pm | Updated: 8:44 pm, Fri Oct 7, 2011.

Wireless spy cameras. Eavesdropping bugs. GPS tracking gadgets. All of these things may seem far-fetched, the stuff of movies. But these gadgets do exist. And they are becoming more sophisticated.

Wireless spy cameras. Eavesdropping bugs. GPS tracking gadgets. All of these things may seem far-fetched, the stuff of movies.

But these gadgets do exist. And they are becoming more sophisticated.

Don't believe me? Do a Web search for "spy gear" or "spy gadgets." You'll be amazed at what you find.

AUDIO BUGS

Audio bugs run from simple to advanced. An inexpensive baby monitor can be used to record conversations. More sophisticated gadgets can be hidden in walls or everyday objects.

You'll find pens that contain audio recorders. Power strips, calculators, watches and other items also can conceal audio bugs. Audio bugs can be connected to telephones.

There's even a cell phone that can be activated by a special code. The phone doesn't ring or give any other notice that a call has been received.

The spy eavesdrops on the phone's location. Cellular conversations can also be overheard.

SPY CAMERAS

Surveillance cameras also range from simple to elaborate. For example, nanny cams can be used to spy. These often resemble a stuffed animal.

Of course, a stuffed animal is sure to raise suspicion. But what about a camera hidden in a fake smoke detector? The cameras can be mounted discreetly in any number of other places, too. For example, some cameras are the size of a dime.

Some manufacturers have modified common products with hidden cameras. You can buy an iPod dock with a built-in camera. Or, some watches and belt buckles hide cameras.

GPS TRACKING

GPS tracking is also a reality. Some businesses place them in company vehicles to monitor employees. But these can also be used for nefarious purposes. A GPS tracking gadget the size of a matchbook costs about $300. It is easily attached to a vehicle. A microphone can be included. The GPS data is transmitted via cellular service.

GPS loggers can also be installed in a car. GPS data isn't transmitted in real time. Rather, the spy can retrieve the unit and review the location logs.

COMPUTER ESPIONAGE

Of course, there are more familiar spying techniques. Key-logging software can be installed on computers to monitor usage. Hardware key-loggers can also be attached to machines. These may resemble adapters for computer keyboards.

Wi-Fi setups often use no security, or their encryption is easily broken. Wireless data from such networks can be intercepted.

COUNTER MEASURES

If all of this makes you uneasy, there are solutions. Executives and celebrities frequently hire companies to sweep offices, homes, hotel rooms and the like. Recently, these services have seen a dramatic increase in customers. Of course, these services come at a premium.

Most of us won't face this kind of espionage. However, a jealous ex could use spy gadgets to stalk and spy on you.

Fortunately, there are less costly countermeasures. Inexpensive gadgets can detect radio signals given off by hidden cameras and recorders. Jammers can block GPS and cell-phone signals.

As for computer surveillance, be wary of public wireless Internet hot spots. Make sure your security software is current. Look for suspicious computer attachments. And use encryption software to make intercepted messages unreadable.

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