Thursday, March 20, 2008

Listen Up: 17 Signs That You Are Being Wiretapped

Do you hear strange noises on your phone line? Do you feel like your secrets aren't safe? You're not as paranoid as you might think. Mobsters and cheating spouses aren't the only ones that get wiretapped. In fact, just about anyone who possesses confidential information is a prime target for a wiretap, so it's important that you know the warning signs. Keep an eye out for these subtle clues to avoid becoming a victim of information theft.

1# Your secrets are out. If you've found out that somehow, someone has gotten their hands on your confidential information, there's a good chance that you're being spied on — and probably wiretapped. For example, if your company's confidential product designs end up in the hands of your competitor, you very well may be a victim of the underground-information industry.

2# You hear strange noises, like clicking, popping, static and humming. Often, surveillance devices will make small noises on a phone line. Specifically, if you hear static, scratching or popping, it may be caused by a capacitive discharge, which is created when two conductors — like a wiretap on a phone line — are connected. Additionally, high-pitched humming noises are an indicator of a wiretap. A tapped phone line can be verified with a sound-bandwidth sensor on a low frequency. If the indicator pops up a few times each minute, there's a very good chance your line is tapped.

3# Your phone makes noise on its own. If you hear noises coming from your phone even when you're not using it, it may have been turned into an eavesdropping microphone and speaker. This is achieved with a hookswitch bypass and means that someone can probably hear everything you say or do within 20 feet of the phone. Additionally, a dial tone while your phone is on the hook is a sign of a slave eavesdropping device. This can be verified using an external amplifier.

4# Your radio has strange interference. Some eavesdropping devices use frequencies that are close to the FM radio band. To find out if your line is tapped with one of these gadgets, you can set your radio to mono, tune in to the far end of the band and listen for squeals, moving around the room if necessary. You should also listen for anomalies in your car radio, because antennas are often used by eavesdroppers.

5# Your environment just seems different. A wiretapper who has gained access to your home or office may move furniture in order to gain access to lines. If something seems strange — for instance, the couch has moved slightly or rug imprints are different — your line just might be tapped.

6# Your outside phone box has extra hardware. Sometimes, a physical check is required to notice a wiretap. Take a look at the outside of your phone box and look for anything unusual, such as hardware that seems like it was hastily installed. You should be sure to check the "restricted" side of the box, which will require a special Allen wrench.

7# You find a recording machine. Don't assume that everything on your phone is there because your provider put it there. If you've found a recording device or something else that looks suspicious, check it out. Follow your wires to make sure that they're clean.