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TUCoPS :: Hardware Hacks :: bugtypes.txt

Types of Bugs




 - Audio Bugs -

 The audio bug, or just bug, as it is more commonly known, is the listening
 device we have all seen before in 007 films and the like, but, as you will
 see, the bug has come a long way from the simple tiny black box most are used
 to.

 A bug is essentially a microphone, or some other form of electronic listening
 device, connected to a small, yet often powerful transmitter. The bug is
 discretely planted on a victim, in his house or office, or, as with some of
 the highly sophisticated bugs of this advanced age, used from a remote
 position to monitor conversations, or any other noise.  In this article, we
 will give a brief overview of many common bugs, beginning with the simple
 black box, working up to the more advanced bugs.


 1] Radio Bug - The 'standard', most common bug, which can be constructed both
 cheaply and easily from electronic kits supplied at Dick Smiths, Tandy, Radio
 Shak and the like.  Although these kits are often simple bugs with an
 unimpressive range and battery life, more powerful, preconstructed units can
 be purchased.  The radio bug is simply that, a radio transmitter, operating
 normally on the FM band, which transmits all sound within vincinity of the
 bug, which uses a small microphone to detect the noise. See later
 surveillance articles for different types of microphones. These bugs all must
 include an antenna, typically  six centimetres or longer. More complicated
 crystal circuits can be used to reduce signal drift, but these require bigger
 batteries, and hence bigger bugs which are more difficult to conceal. The
 major problem with radio bugs, like most bugs, is the need for power, unless
 the bug is hidden inside, say, a stereo and wired to the stereo's power cord
 with a transformer, batteries must be used, and hence a compromise between
 battery life and bug size.

 If you suspect you have been radio bugged, most varieties can be easily
 detected using a common household radio with an FM tuner.  Simply turn on a
 TV or stereo in the bugged room, and, from another room/building where the TV
 cannot be heard, slowly tune through the entire FM band on your radio. If the
 room is bugged with a radio bug operating on the same FM frequency as any of
 those on the radio, you will be able to tune into the sound of your TV or
 stereo. Some bugs operate on different FM frequencies than common radios, or
 even other bands (ie; AM or VHF) and hence a scanner can be used. Scanners,
 which can be large, powerful, bench mounted devices, or smaller, less
 sensetive, hand held devices, will scan a thorough range of frequencies on
 many bands.  These can even pick up police transmissions and other non
 civillian signals.  These are available from most electronics stores, or you
 could find an older one from Cash Converters, etc.

 If you detect a bug with a radio or scanner, you can home in on its exact
 location by moving the radio while powered by batteries, or a hand held
 scanner through the building, and near potential bug hiding spots. If you
 hear an acostic feed back (that annoying high pitched squeal often made by
 microphones), you are near bug.  Be careful not to give away the bug's
 discovery by screaming 'I've found one!!!' right near the mic. You can simply
 place the bug in a metal biscuit tin or the like (bugs cannot transmit when
 encased in metal), or drain the batteries.

 Many other kinds of modern bugs are simply radio bugs concealed in various
 forms, and with various other functions, commonly functions which will
 conserve batttery power by only transmiting within certain parametres. Some
 of these bugs are discussed below.


 2] Pen Bugs - These are radio bugs concealed in a pen, which often has the
 end caps glued down, so that when the ink tube expires, the victim cannot
 attempt to replace it and hence discover they have been bugged. The pen will
 be thrown away without the target being aware of what has happened. If the
 pen cannot be given to or planted on the target.  The pen can be placed in
 the breast pocket of your shirt rather inconspicuously.  You can then take up
 a train/bus seat near the targets, and another member of the bugging party
 can recieve and record the conversation.  This method, however, has the
 downfall of the difficulty involved in tailing the target close enough for
 the sound to be detected.  More advanced pen bugs will transmit only when
 the pen lid is removed, or will begin recording continuously the first time
 the lid is removed.


 3] Calculator Bugs - A radio bug placed in a calculator, normally in the
 place normally reserved for the batteries.  Batteries for the calculator can
 be button batteries, which are thin enough to be concealed elsewhere in the
 calculator, if the calculator is not solar powered. These bugs have the
 advantage of prolonged battery life, as they can be programmed to transmi
 only when the calculator is in use, however, this is not always worth the
 extra bug size, as few people use calculators while undertaking significant
 conversations.


 4] Book bug - By hollowing out the inner pages of a book in such a way that
 when closed it will look normal, a bug can be concealed in a space big enough
 to last for a much larger battery and more powerful transmitter. Book bugs
 can be hidden easily by simply placing them on a bookshelf. If large, thick
 books are used, enough equipment can be stored wthin for the bug to transmit
 for up to a year if it is not discovered. Try using a book the target is not
 likely to consult often. Although dictionaries, encyclopaedias and manuals
 may look inviting books to bug due to their large size, they are consulted
 often, and hence the bug is more likely to be discovered.


 5] Plug bug - Looks and operates like a normal 3 pin electric plug. This can
 be inconspicuously connected to an electrical appliance. If the appliance is
 left turned on for prolonged periods of time, ie; an alarm clock, some bugs
 are available which can, rather than use a battery, draw power from the
 mains supply. These bugs can sometimes use the earth wire to carry the signal
 to an external transmitter or recorder. However, because there is only one
 earth wire, the sound will be in mono, but this is a minor disadvantage for
 such a useful function


 6] Light switch bug -  This is a radio bug which is concealed inside a common
 light switch.  It can draw power from the mains or from a battery. Battery
 life can be extended by using a bug which will transmit only while the lights
 are turned on.  Some bugs transmit only when the light is off. These two
 functions can be combined into a much larger bug unit (which is no great
 drawback, as it can be mounted behind the switch inside the wall) with a
 timer circuit, transmiting continuously during day, but a night only when the
 light is on.


 7] 'Baby Listener' bug -  This is an improvised bug which is simply a small
 unit packaged as a 'Baby Listener'. This is a small cotinuously transmitting
 unit which parents place in an infant's bed or room so they can hear when the
 baby is crying for food or whatever. It can be used as  bug quite simply by
 turning it on, and placing the unit on or near the target, and listening in
 on all conversation with another unit (the things normally come in packs of
 at least two).  The range is short, as it is designed to transmit only
 through one building, but due to the quietness of baby noises, they are quite
 sensetive to sound and the quality is excellent.  These should be used only
 for bugging very nearby targets, such as your neighbour. A mains power
 variant of these could be constructed using a mains intercome, commonly used
 to communicate between, say, a house and a shed. These can be set to 'talk'
 continuously and can be hidden in a room. They use the mains power line to
 transmit the signal, so you can bug to anywhere that is powered by the same
 step-down transformer grid.  These can be concealed in a stereo or the like,
 and wired to the mains power from there, giving a good concealment, however,
 if the target begins playing loud music, you will be able to hear it, not
 them.


 8] The mobile fone - Yes, the mobile fone. This now common, small and cheap
 device makes an excellent and eassily concealable bug. It is quite common for
 people to 'accidently' leave their fone lying around in a conference room or
 whatever. Before planting the fone, press the memory dial button that is set
 to call a friend.  Then leave the room and your friend can hear everyhting
 said in the room for as long as the batteries last. There are, however, many
 cautions that must be taken to bug securely with a mobile. Firstly, have your
 friend listen in at a payfone (if you can find one that accepts incomming
 calls, quite a rareity nowadays), so that the call cannot be traced to
 anyone, or the fone bill intercepted and give the location from which the
 bugging was listened to.  If possible, set a code or keypad lock so that if
 the fone is found, no out-going calls can be made. Make sure the fone is as
 blank and uncustomised as possible.  Do not engrave your name, fill any other
 speed dial or similar functions, and do not apply one of those uber-yuppie
 coloured face plates!!!. It is also a good idea to disconnect the mouthpiece,
 so your friend cannot be heard. Those of you with some elecronics skills may
 be able to fill the space of the microphone with extra batteries or the like.
 If nothing of interest is heard on the listening fone, the call can be
 terminated from the other end of the line, and you can enter the room,
 appologising for 'forgetting your fone'.

 Another method of mobile bugging is to tape the fone under a desk etc, where
 you will be able to inconspicuously connect it to a mains supply using one of
 the transformers offered with many fone packages. This will enable you to
 bug for extended periods without fear of the batteries expiring. If even
 when concealed in this way the fone lead and its transformer are clearly
 visible, you could conceal it within an elctrical appliance that is always
 turned on, say a stereo or alarm clock, using the transformer. This had the
 disadvantage of conversations being blocked out by loud music played on the
 stereo. Alternatively, you could use on of the adaptors used to run the fone
 off the ciggarette lighter in your car. Cut off the plug and lead the two
 wires to a 12v battery.  This will give significant fone life for times when
 a transformer is not available.  Car batteries will last a long time, but are
 large and bulky.  Try a 12v motorcycle battery.

 You can initiate a mobile fone bugging session remotely by using duct tape to
 secure a small object tightly pressing down on the 'recieve call' button.
 Then simply call from wherever, and the line should be connected before the
 fone rings. This does not work on all models of mobiles, so try it out
 first. If your fone does not enable this function, and you have some
 experince with electronics, you should be able to construct a transistor
 ciruit that electronically 'presses' the recieve button many thousands of
 times per second.  Using this method you can simply dial your fone from
 anywhere and listen in on any sounds in the fone's vincinity.  If the fone is
 connected to a transformer, you can do this anytime, even years after the
 fone's installation, assuming the fone is not found.


 9] Laser bug - This is a highly advanced and expensive bug for people with
 cash to burn, and a lot of time on their hands. These bugs rely on vibrations
 of a sounding board (window, door, thin wall). As you may know, sound is
 mearly the vibration of air. Speak onto your bare arm, or hold your hand near
 a speaker. You should feel the air moving against your arm/hand, similar to a
 light breeze. This proves the above statement, and with this proof we can
 conclude that when you speak, all items in close vincinity will, on a minute
 scale, vibrate in realtion to the volume and pitch of your voice. A precision
 aligned laser beam, running on a constant pulse power supply, will, when
 correctly aligned, reflect light of the window. Sometimes a small reflector
 can be placed on the window, perhaps disguised a bird dropping or something
 similar, to aid in this reflection. As the window vibrates with the air moved
 by your speech, the intensity of the reflected laster will, every so
 slightly, increase or drop in relation to your voice. A precision aligned
 high quality astronomical telescope can be used to focus this reflected light
 into a photomultiplier tube. The tube and its associated elctronic systems
 can variations in the laser pulses, which can be transformed into sound and
 either recorded, or feed through a speaker, and, if necessary, and amplifier.
 This equipment can be extremely expensive (Sets from Information Unlimited
 can range from $446 - $999 depending on quality/range desired), but the
 benefits are worth the money, due to the difficulty to detect such a bugging
 operation, and the range from which the laser can be recieved. The sound
 quality is not always excellent, but is usually sufficient to hear a
 conversation. For those of you with less money, infrared light can be used to
 replace the laser for a cheaper system, but for the decrease in price you
 also suffer a decrease in range (to approximately 500m depending on the
 quality of the transmitters and recievers) and quality, as well as the
 disadvantage of the quality being effected by weather conditions.

 To avoid being bugged by laser, you can simply hang heavy curtains, talk
 quitely and away from any windows or other potential sounding boards, or
 place a radio/stero near the window. The latter has the disadvantage of the
 fact that if the bugging party can identify the song, album or radio station,
 they can use a digital recording of the distorted conversation and a digital
 recording of the music and use computer software to subtract one from the
 other, resulting in an undistorted conversation. Another method of distorting
 the conversation is to tape an electric toothbrush, a vibrator or similar
 such device to the window. The vibrations cause by these will distort the
 sound recieved, however, due to the steady vibration, the buggers can once
 again clear the sound, providing they have and identical toothbrush...


 10] Laser/IR Transmitter -  Rather than feeding the sound from a microphone
 to a radio transmitter it can be fed through an array of equipment used to
 convert the signal from the mic into a signal which can be connected to a
 laser beam. Using technology similar to that used to recieved the laser beam
 in the above 'Laser Bug', the light from this laser can be convereted back
 into sound. This equipment is exceedingly expensive, but the sound quality
 recieved can be excellent, and has a range measured in kilometres! InfraRed
 light can be used instead for a much cheaper option, but the range will then
 be limited to about 500 metres.


 11] Voice activated bug -  These bugs can be set to begin recording /
 transmitting once the noise in the room reaches a preselected volume, and
 deactivate once the room is silent for more than a few minutes. This advanced
 technology makes for substantially bigger bugs, but they can still be
 concealed relatively well. Due to the fact that more batteries means more
 bulk, these bugs again are limited by their short life. If you suspect a room
 is bugged, play music continuously over the weekend, simply by leaving a
 radio turned on in the office at a reasonable volume. You can return to work
 the next week knowing that the bug will have recorded SA-FM for 48 hours, and
 will consequently have little or no battery power left. This will work only
 for bugs with the smallest capacity though. Unless you want to leave a room
 unused and noise filled for weeks, the longer lasting bugs will be hard to
 defeat without being detected and removed (see later installation for bug
 sweeping tactics).


 12] Time activated bug - A bug, normally radio, which can be set to record or
 transmit only during a certain time. Exists simply to save battery power by
 activating only during reasonable hours, and not recording 10 hours of
 snoring while the target sleeps.


 13] Remote triggered bug - Got money to burn? Then this is for you. For all
 you Jr Bill Gates out there, there are available bugs which can be planted in
 a room or car, and will then remain dormant, listening out for a broadcast
 code on a certain frequency. Obviously, only you should be able to send the
 coded signal, and only you should know the frequency on which to broadcast.
 Another, optionally different or identical, coded signal can be sent to
 deactivate the bug. In this way, the bug can be remotely activated whenever
 you desire, hence saving battery power by listening only at the exact moments
 necessary. This bug, obviously, requires you having the means to know when to
 record, and also having a swolen bank account capable of purchasing the
 variety of expensive equipment needed to send the coded signals, as well as
 the bug unit capable of recieving them.


 That's all for this issue. Next issue we will switch to the subject of
 security and discuss the common wall alarm unit, as well as how to defeat the
 common PIR (Passive InfraRed) motion detector, as well as details on and
 countermeasures for the electronic keypad lock and for presure pads mounted
 under the carpet of alarmed buldings, which can detect your body weight and
 trigger the alarm!  Tune in, and remember, Big Brother is watching you!!!  



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