Thursday, May 09, 2019

Is a Smart Phone App the same as a Detection Device?



Is a Smart Phone App the same as a Detection Device?
As the news cycle shows recent stories of spying threats in hotel rooms and rental houses many developers are touting smart phone apps as an option for scanning a space for hidden bugs or video cameras. But how effective are these apps? We took a look and discovered some key differences between common 'detection' apps and the average handheld detection device.

Magnetic Field Sensor
Most of the smart phone apps require your phone to have a magnetic field sensor or they will not work. The magnetic field sensor is similar to what is found in a stud finder or compass app and not all phones come equipped with it. Handheld detectors like a camera finder or an RF signal detector do not require any additional technology to work with the exception of batteries.

Detection from a distance
The smart phone apps did find hidden camera lens and RF signals but only when the user was really close to the hidden camera or hidden bug.  The camera lens detection option on the apps we tried caused the smart phone's light to flash slowly in order to reflect off of the hidden lens. The light from the phone managed to reflect on the lens when the distance between the hidden camera and the smart phone was closed to about 15 inches apart. Trying a basic handheld detection device like a Spy Finder or a Hidden Camera RF Detector the flashing LEDs on the detection devices picked up the hidden lens from about 15 feet away.

Sensitivity Adjustment
The smart phone apps did not offer much ability to change the sensitivity of detection. The magnetic field sensor did do a good job finding electronics but it found all of them. So a camera hidden in a picture was easy to locate. A camera hidden in a clock radio was masked by all the other electronics inside. Likewise, the apps that detected RF signals picked up signals for everything from a wireless mouse to the hidden video transmitter. Using a Wireless Camera Detector we were able to narrow the sensitivity and focus on areas that were most likely  to have a hidden camera or listening device.

Our Take Away
Smart phone apps are a viable solution for a one time scan of a very small, bare, space. But for even an average sized space, like a hotel room, it would take a fair amount of patience and time to scan the entire area. Even then a camera or hidden bug inside a clock or electronic device could be missed due to the interference from non spying electronics. For users traveling frequently or users concerned about spying outside of hidden camera or bugs such as GPS trackers, a handheld detection device could be a good investment.


Tuesday, April 09, 2019

5 Top Spots Spy Cameras Could be Hidden



5 Top Spots Spy Cameras Could be Hidden

How easy it is to forget that hidden surveillance is a constant threat. After checking your home and office, be sure to check these commonly forgotten areas for hidden spy camera dangers: 


1. Uncover Hidden Dorm Room Cameras 
You may not suspect a college campus but anyone – from a roommate with free time to a student with a cheating problem – might use a hidden camera to spy on you.  Use our DD3100, a simple rf detector device to find a camera that may be hidden dorm rooms, public rooms and even in the showers.

2. Save your future self from embarrassment in Hotel Rooms
The nightly news tells us horror stories about hidden cameras in hotels regularly. A quick check with our DD12031 can save you from an unexpected phone call. Can you imagine getting the call where a police officer awkwardly informs you that your entire hotel stay was caught on camera? With everything you pack that you don’t need, adding a wireless detector might be a good idea. 

3. Make sure your new boss doesn't have ideas outside the boardroom:
We all know what its like to start a new job. Everything is new and feels beyond your control. The restroom, the last vestige of your personal sanity, should be checked to be sure no unwanted eyes pry into your visit. The DD3150 is small and portable and will quickly deal with any covert spy cameras.

4. Check changing Rooms and Dressing rooms
Full length mirrors and poorly fitting doors are the earmark of changing and dressing rooms all over the world. Using our Spyfinder Pro you will instantly know where a spy camera is. Use a spy finder to cheek for unwanted watchers using pinhole cameras. You should be able to try on those new jeans without snooping eyes behind a pinhole camera. 

5. The Gym Should be a Safe Workout Place 
Hidden cameras in locker rooms are many times overlooked. It’s been a hard day at work and you need to work the stress of the day away at the gym. As you head into the locker room, you wonder, “How many places can a camera be hidden?” Well, the answer is in a locker, a ceiling vent, or even what appears to be a forgotten gym bag. Checking for a spy camera is quick and easy using our DD802 and a few minutes of time, makes your time at the gym much easier, well except for the workout.


Wednesday, March 13, 2019

5 Tips to Get the Best Video From Your Hidden Camera Smoke Detector


Most actual smoke detectors are placed just above a doorway as you enter or exit a room. however this might not be the best place for a hidden camera smoke detector as the subject of interest could walk through the door so quickly that they do not trigger the camera's PIR sensor. Instead consider placing the smoke detector above a window or closet door in the back of the room. This will allow the PIR sensor time to fully activate the camera and the intruder will be walking toward the hidden camera instead of away from it. 

Bottom View Smoke Detector Camera
This model of hidden camera has a hidden camera pointed out the bottom of the detector body. If this unit is mounted on the ceiling it will capture what is directly below. This means that a subject walking through a doorway will have the top of their head in view but not their face. Consider mounting a bottom view smoke detector camera on a wall, opposite of the doorway you suspect the subject will use. In this position the camera will capture all of the doorway and most of the floor to ceiling space of an average room with 9 foot high ceilings.

Bottom view smoke detector hidden camera mounted on ceiling














Bottom view smoke detector hidden camera mounted on wall
















Side View Smoke Detector Camera
In this model of hidden camera the camera is mounted on the side of the detector body with the camera tilted slightly downward. Mount it on ceiling for an angle that will capture most of the floor space of a medium sized room as well as about 4-6 feet above the floor. When monitoring a long hallway consider having more than one hidden camera smoke detector mounted every 10-12 feet. This allows the subject to be captured on video in multiple positions and allows the PIR sensor on the additional camera to be triggered just as the subject is leaving the first camera's field of view.
Side view smoke detector hidden camera mounted on ceiling
















Pick the Best Camera for the Space While a smoke detector is a pretty ordinary object to have in most spaces, in some spaces it might draw attention. For example it would be unusual to see a smoke detector mounted in a carport, a better choice would be the Cable Box Camera or even the Birdhouse Camera.

Monitoring Busy PlacesNo matter how much life a hidden camera battery might have, if the camera is being constantly activated by ordinary coming and going in a busy spot the battery will wear down quickly, possibly in less than a day. While you can check video recorded when the camera was active, no more video will be recorded until the battery can be recharged. Our hidden cameras that plug into an AC outlet are the best choice for this kind of surveillance. Another option is to take advantage of the Scheduled Recording option in the SG Home app. If you know when the person you are monitoring will be in the area you can set the camera to only wake to the PIR during that time, thus saving battery life.

Channel Your Inner Wile E. CoyoteThat rascally coyote never gave up chasing the Roadrunner. While we don't suggest tying an anvil to your hidden camera we DO suggest not giving up the first time if it doesn't capture the problem. Surveillance is as much an art as a science. You may need to adjust your camera placement, be prepared to schedule its recording time or be ready to check the memory card multiple times during the day. If climbing up a ladder to retrieve video from an SD card would draw attention to the hidden camera itself then monitor your video from your smart phone. You can even subscribe to our Cloud Recording and have access to downloaded video for a longer period of time without having to return to the camera at all.

Finally, remember that hidden cameras sometimes tell us good news. If after choosing your camera, carefully selecting its placement, and diligently checking its recording you discover that the suspicious behavior you originally noticed is actually quite innocent then consider it a good day. Breathe a sigh of relief and store your camera in a safe place for the next time you suspect a Road Runner has been sneaking around your cave.

Camera Placement Dos and Don'ts Checklist:
• DON'T place a camera near a doorway or other area that the subject would quickly walk by without triggering the camera

• DO make sure the camera fits into the use of the room and will not draw attention to itself 

• DO make sure the camera is plugged in for monitoring busy areas just as a business' entry lobby

• DON'T mount a side view camera on a wall. 

• DO be prepared to adjust your cameras placement at the beginning of your surveillance


Tuesday, February 26, 2019

Protect Your Organization from Spying Threats



Cameras are everywhere, from Ring to facial recognition that unlocks your smartphone. People are being conditioned to be on camera even when they don't want to be. Corporations and institutions are seeing their private spaces invaded also, particularly as intellectual property is increasingly under threat of being stolen. In 2016 the FBI reported a 53% increase in the number of corporate espionage cases being investigated.

Institutions blind to the growing number intrusion of cameras and recording devices risk competing with their own stolen intellectual property. Certain international players see corporate espionage as a growth strategy, not just a short term means to an end. Many institutions think only of securing their IP in cyberspace and ignore the real threat lurking in their boardrooms, recruiter offices, or break rooms. One only needs to look at the latest headlines involving the intended theft of T-Mobile's robot technology via secretly collected pictures. With the growth of internet connected devices it's not beyond the realm of possibility that the employee microwave is silently streaming project details to a murky competitor.
  
However taking steps to secure your organization beyond cyber threats has a payoff: Scanning areas where your employees work with international partners will reveal any surreptitious recording devices. Training your employees to utilize detection devices puts them at the front lines of being able to detect and stop a theft before it happens.

All you need to begin a complete surveillance detection protocol are a set of comprehensive tools:

  • Cameras are easily scanned for with a handheld lens detector that confirms the presence of a hidden camera whether or not it's in operation.
  • Handheld detection devices can scan for hidden GPS trackers,  listening and video transmitting devices. Meeting in a new space? Many of these are small enough to carry with you and do a quick scan before a meeting begins.
  • Spectrum analyzers serve the needs of the largest institutions and government offices. Equipped with the ability to scan all transmitting frequencies, these devices quickly become go-to tools to guard against privacy invasion.

Recently a customer came to us concerned that private conversations were being compromised after a chance meeting with a presumed potential client at an out-of-town trade show. The new client seemed to know exact details of our customer's itinerary as well as other private conversations. Evidence mounted that this 'new client' was trying to determine who else our customer was establishing business relationships with, even during after hours meetings. After investing in a handheld detection device and an afternoon of practicing scanning with our customer service team, our customer discovered a hidden tracker on a vehicle used for business as well as listening devices in the office space. Finding these hidden devices allowed our customer to bring law enforcement into the matter and stop the unwanted surveillance threat.

Protecting your organization from spying threats should be a multi-pronged approach. Once your institution has implemented a regular surveillance detection scanning plan both employees and outside partners will feel secure that outside surveillance is not jeopardizing trade information. Employees will be free to work without fear of having their efforts undermined by secret audio and video surveillance. And IP protection teams will have more time and resources to devote to catching slippery cyber opportunists.

Essentially protecting your institution's physical space from spying threats increases protection of ALL space from spying threats.


Monday, November 12, 2018

Top 5 Tips for Keeping Your Home Safe During the Holidays



Top 5 tips for Keeping Your Home Safe
during the Holidays

You’re not alone if you are traveling this Holiday Season. November is upon us and like you lots of people have travel plans approaching from Thanksgiving to New Year’s. In 2017, we had record-breaking travel from November through December, the busiest months for long-distance trips every year. Increasing numbers of homes are left unattended every year during the holidays.

Enjoy a worry-free trip this holiday. Follow these few tips to keep your home secure while you’re away this season.

1. Keep Up with Home Maintenance. Don’t leave a calling card for potential intruders. Nothing tips them off more than mail, packages or newspapers piling up, overgrown landscape, or snow in the driveway. Make sure you arrange for these few things to be taken care of while you are away. Have a friend pick them up or have your mail or newspapers stopped all together. This news report of a home invasion tells how the thief knew no one was home by the newspapers in the driveway. Don’t fall victim to this simple mistake.

2. Make it look like someone is home. You may have heard this one before, but we often forget it in our time of hustle and bustle to get on the road. Simply adding a timer to your lights to turn on at a certain time can make it look like someone is home. Our outdoor version can double as outside hidden security. Having a dark home is a dead ringer you aren’t there. You don’t need to channel your inner Kevin McCallister in Home Alone, to make your space look occupied. Some other tricks are leaving a pair of shoes by the door, keeping a TV on or keeping a car in the driveway.

3. Lock Up. It’s obvious, but sometimes we forget. A large number of home invasions happen through unlocked entry. Take an extra walk through your home to make sure all the windows and doors are locked while you are away. Lock up or move any valuables out of sight. Also make sure you don’t have any spare keys hidden in obvious places outside your home.

4. Home Security. Whether it’s a dog, alarm system or video surveillance, you will know when someone has entered your home. Our covert video surveillance is disguised in your everyday objects that get overlooked in most circumstances. You can arm yourself with a standalone DVR, WiFi or cloud storage camera. WiFi and Cloud cameras have the ability of notifying you when they detect movement in the area of view. With FREE apps, you can check-in with live streaming, recording and play back options at anytime from anywhere you get a signal. And if your home is broken into while you’re away, you can notify the authorities and have clear evidence of the perpetrator to take to law enforcement.

5. Keep your plans off Social Media. In a high technological society, we tend to overshare. We check-in and post from everywhere. Don’t put your holiday travel schedule in print for everyone to see because that information is widely accessed. Keep a close friend or neighbor in the loop, they can check on your place while you are gone. You don’t need to share right away, if you take any pictures or have any fun experience, post them when you return.



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