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Detecting hidden cameras at work

Surveillance devices can be freely bought online nowadays and concealed in a variety of everyday household objects. For most people, the reason is completely innocent for buying one. Whether that’s to keep an eye on a family pet while you’re out, watch a delivery being made, or catch an unexpected visitor.

Unfortunately, these unassuming cameras and microphones can also be used to steal government and corporate information for political or economic gain.

The risks are many and can be devastating to a country or businesses future growth prospects, reputation, and its people’s livelihoods.

Espionage can even pose a risk to national infrastructure. Particularly if critical information were to be stolen by a hostile state actor or criminal organisation.

UK NACE works hard to protect the UK government from technical espionage. Read on for our quick expert advice on what to do to protect your information from getting into the wrong hands.

How do hidden surveillance cameras work?

In short, hidden cameras need power and a way to transmit or store the video. Most commercial devices are battery-powered and use Wi-Fi to transmit data or store to a micro SD card.

Features of a commercial camera can include real-time remote viewing in high quality and motion detection to trigger recordings. While it can save the video, it can also forward it onto someone at a later time.

You may be lucky enough to spot a pin hole in a commercial concealment. This can be an good indicator of a camera device.

However, professionally installed devices are best left to technical surveillance countermeasure professionals to handle. They can isolate the device and deal with it.

If you suspect a camera may be using your Wi-Fi, an IT savvy person can log into your router and check the devices using it.

How to mitigate the risk

Take care when taking unassuming objects into spaces where you have confidential or sensitive conversations. This especially applies to electrical items. Espionage is a real threat to various industries. It can be disruptive to business operations and lead to significant financial losses.

UK NACE highly recommend controlling a space where sensitive conversations are taking place. For example in a boardroom or a frequently used meeting room.

It may not be illegal to buy these type of surveillance objects, but using them to steal sensitive information or invade privacy, even accidentally can land you with a large fine or a prison sentence and criminal record.

Further links


    UK NACE is the UK’s national authority in protecting technical security, providing guidance and operational support to the UK government and Friendly Foreign Governments.

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