Updated: Jan 26, 2021
TSCM or Technical Surveillance Counter Measures is a highly specialized service that detects the presence of eavesdropping devices such as hidden video or audio equipment as well as GPS trackers. As a protector I have offered the service for clients who have private board meetings, hotel rooms, and even for meetings in vehicles as well as tracking devices that may be on a vehicle. I am not an investigator looking for information I am a protector trying to shield the client from getting the information in the wrong hands. Monetary policy for a bank, special ingredients used by a restaurant chain, any given registered trade secret, or simply information leaked to the tabloids are just examples why the service is requested. To locate a device you must first understand the size and capabilities of the device and where the device can be hidden. The following are five methods I use to locate a device.
1) Using your senses:
The first thing that should always be done is a physical sweep. Use your senses. What is the sound like in the room. Do you hear any buzzing (consistent with a transmission)? What do you see (look in the obvious and easy to reach places)? What do you feel (are there objects or bumps that shouldn't be there)?
2) Is someone listening?
Radio Frequency detection is a science in itself. You want to make sure you pick up the signals within the property you are searching. If you pick up signals outside your area of search it will impact your search. For instance if you are near windows with a RF detector you might pick up third party signals. So find a quiet area of the room and see if you pick up any signals. Know that you may not pick up any signals if the device you are searching for is not transmitting. Make sure that all devices within the property are turned off. Now when you are scanning the area you have more of a chance to pick-up signals.
3) Is your client being watched?
Cameras can be placed in nearly anything. Some devices record and some will send data via cellular or an IP connection. Lens finders are made up of red flashing LEDs and a filter that will cover one eye while looking in an area that is being searched. The technology used for finding cameras is actually very primitive in nature. Turn off the lights in the room, avoid tripping hazards, and starts scanning the search area.
4) Detecting the heat source:
So even if you picked up an RF signal or a camera lens the device is going to be concealed in some way. All power sources emit heat. A thermal imagery camera (TIC) can detect both video and audio devices. TICs can scan an area relatively quickly. Always do your searches in a logical sequence of events in case a report is needed.
5) Those hard to reach places:
Nothing like a little endoscopy for TSCM. Endoscopy literally means "seeing inside." You might run into an area where you can't reach or you simply can't see. Vents or an unexplained hole in a wall are a couple examples. A hole might be easy to explain but it is also a good way to conceal a device. A boroscope with camera/video capabilities is a good item to use to act as your eyes in such challenging areas.
Safety tip: If at anytime you are going to check outlets or anything that leads to an electrical conduit please have the electricity shut off. I use a simple electrical tester/voltage meter to verify. Many devices can be hardwired into telephone or electrical outlets. Get trained and add it to your protector's tool box. As usual stay safe and be vigilant.