The threat of corporate espionage or compromising your sensitive information poses considerable risks that can severely damage your organization and reputation. Illicit activities such as eavesdropping and adversarial surveillance can disrupt merger plans, cause negative publicity, destroy relationships, and affect your bottom line.
Technical Surveillance Countermeasures (TSCM) is a specialized service that detects covert electronic devices such as hidden microphones, cameras, and wiretaps in your boardrooms, offices, residences, and private spaces. The goal of an exam is to identify existing security breaches and potential weaknesses, then determine methods to neutralize risk and deter future intrusion. But when is the best time to do it? The answer is it depends on a simple risk assessment – what is the probability of eavesdropping occurring, and what is the potential loss?
For many of our clients, we conduct TSCM examinations (or sweeps) of their C-Suite offices and boardrooms before significant events, such as annual conferences, merger discussions, or labor negotiations. Once we complete the exam, we secure the rooms to maintain a sterile environment prior to the event. For similar occasions, we can also examine offsite locations, such as hotels and resorts.
Other instances for which we have done exams include recently renovated spaces, the purchase of a new facility, and following the termination of an employee who has threatened revenge on their employer.
Office buildings are not alone. We also perform regular sweeps of executive residences for high-net-worth individuals who have domestic staff or contractors regularly working inside the home.
Of course, if an eavesdropping device has been found or evidence exists that one was present, you should immediately conduct a TSCM sweep. Locating and removing any potential device can mitigate further loss. Being proactive rather than reactive limits the damage to you and your organization.
But who is conducting your sweep? There is a good chance that an “insider” such as an employee or custodial service was the one who installed the device in the first place. Having an outside firm conduct the search avoids the possibility that the person tasked with searching is the proverbial fox in the henhouse. A qualified TSCM examiner will have the most advanced equipment and training to find hidden devices and they will know how to properly handle any mechanisms discovered to preserve them as potential evidence.
An example of this occurred in October 2020 when an employee found a hidden camera in an Illinois dental office. Following a law enforcement investigation, a hygienist confessed to installing it and was arrested. However, instead of hiring a professional to detect other devices, management conducted their own search and determined no other cameras were present. Yet several days later, an employee found another hidden camera missed during the initial check. Adding to this, the dental office admitted that the background check for the employee who placed the cameras revealed previous criminal activity. The office now faces lawsuits from eleven of its employees recorded by the cameras.
The reality is that even the best physical security cannot stop a bad actor from eavesdropping, especially if they are an insider with legitimate access to your spaces. However, if someone believes there is a strong likelihood of being detected and identified, there is much less chance that they will even attempt an attack. A regular schedule of TSCM examinations is your best option for detecting and mitigating eavesdropping.