Professional Counter Surveillance


It is true that simple “bug detectors” and “detector kits” are far from providing efficient counter surveillance. This is inherent in the fact that they only aim at primitive and active radio bugs. For any target bearing a special risk no security at all can be achieved by using such equipment only. Quite the contrary, as most of the eavesdropping methods remain undetected. In fact, this sort of equipment provides no possibility at all to detect the numerous wired eavesdropping systems or optical transmission methods. Let alone professional attacks on communications services level or manipulations of ISDN TK phones.

The development going on in the field of Signal Intelligence has to result in permanent basic research as well as continuous replacement of measurement instrumentation and adjustment of test procedures in the domain of counter surveillance. For this, experts with long years of experience in the counter surveillance business as well as skilled staff qualified in civil engineering, communications engineering, network engineering, multimedia or communications electronics and most important insider information about state-of-the-art surveillance technologies are required. At any rate, successful counter surveillance is not done in passing, in fact a complete specialisation is necessary.

In addition, one has to take into account the enormous expense involved in the replacement of counter surveillance equipment and continuous staff training. The equipment for a professional counter surveillance team nowadays is hardly available for less than half a million dollars with an average service life of only two to three years.

Today professional counter surveillance mainly requires infrared thermography and X-ray inspection of walls and the use of an imaging metal detector and state-of-the-art semiconductor detectors (so-called NLJD), miniature and video probes, time-domain reflectometers, network testers, cable fault locators and cable detectors, oscilloscope, specialised audio amplifier, IR sensors, impact and nearfield probes, microwave analysers for real-time spectral analysis as well as a variety of additional measuring instruments, specialised tools and technical aids and appliances. Not to mention the know-how required for the software revision of ISDN TK phones.

When awarding a counter surveillance services contract one should bear in mind, that especially the final inspection and acceptance after the new construction or renovation of sensitive objects require scientifically approved methods of non-destructive material testing.

Another critical but significant point for the counter surveillance quality is the inspection performance which cannot exceed a maximum of 1.0 to 1.5 m2 per man-hour if all physical test procedures required are applied even in an average building. An increased performance rate involves that essential measurements are not
carried out so that in the end a sweep is useless if not damaging.

Some suppliers of counter surveillance services deliberately take advantage of the fact that the decision-makers responsible for awarding a contract often do not have the expertise required to make an appropriate choice based on objective criteria. If in doubt, companies at risk should not hesitate to contact qualified public authorities and use special checklists. In any case, one should apply to specialised associations or business insiders to obtain references of potential suppliers.

Caution should prevail in those cases where suppliers do not allow the customer to be present during the inspection, give a 100 % safety guarantee and do not answer technical questions under reference to the professional secret. Suppliers advertising with their customers’ names should also be treated with scepticism for in counterespionage in particular, the customer’s identity should be the most precious good to be protected.


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