After the suspected bugging of the office premises of the Finance Minister in the power-centre of North Block I was requested by several electronic and print media to offer expert opinion. As I know the NB corridors and the premises of the FM I formed certain conclusions: It was an amateur job as intelligence agencies do not leave behind footprints; bugging was done during the budget framing period; it was done by some corporate house; it had insider collaborators who provided access and a place within 100 yds to sit comfortably and record the transmissions by the intruder. Micro radio/video bugs can transmit to a distance of 100 yds. Their functional life is about seven days, unless a bulky extra package is attached or connected to main power line. The government was not happy with the opinion and some unseen spook hijacked my mobile phone for seven days. Service was restored after I gave an ultimatum to the service provider.
Bugging is a branch of Electronic Intelligence belonging to the genus of Technical Intelligence. Technical Intelligence is a vast subject. It encompasses Technical Intelligence (TechInt), Electronic Intelligence (ElInt), Communication Intelligence (ComInt), Signal Intelligence (SigInt), Human Intelligence (HumInt) and Computer Intrusion Intelligence (CominInt) etc. In popular perception TechInt means use of technical gadgets in collection and production of Intelligence. This is only a part of the complicated game. Some intelligence are derived from the collection, processing, analysis, and exploitation of data and information pertaining to foreign equipment and materiel for the purposes of preventing technological surprise, assessing foreign scientific and technical capabilities, and developing countermeasures designed to neutralize an adversary’s technological advantages.
Scientific and Technical Intelligence include collection process through all conceivable means of tradecraft, evaluation, assessment, precise conclusion about military, economic planning, defence production facilities, industrial infrastructure used in defence related industry and research and development activities of potential and real enemy countries. The end result is shared with the policy makers at political level and the various branches of political and defence wings. Technical Intelligence also includes Economic Intelligence.
The production of technical intelligence includes collection through open and clandestine sources, reports from own embassy about military hardware and preparation of reports and documents for the Military command and the national defence policy makers. TechInt documents include a wide range of materials prepared by scholars appointed to study defence preparedness of a target country, preparing military inventory of that country and preparation of manuals on military equipments of the target country. For example the Indian defence establishment prepares exhaustive scientific data based reports on new fighters, bombers and air to earth missiles acquired by China and Pakistan. Most of the data about Pakistani acquisitions from the US sources are known. But subsequent modification by Pakistan, specific to Indian targets are difficult to obtain. In such cases clandestine procedures are adopted as per tradecraft prescribed by the concerned agency, i.e. the Directorate of Air Intelligence.
India does not have elaborate establishments in the Armed Forces and civil intelligence establishments for gathering strategic Technical Intelligence. Very little efforts were made to appoint bodies of researchers to study technical data and formulate manual about weapons holding by deemed enemy countries, especially nuclear warheads, delivery mechanism and China’s latest air power acquisitions and establishment of new bases from where China can target important Indian targets.
Compared to India the USA has elaborated Technical Intelligence gathering mechanism. These are:
- A.The Missile and Space Intelligence Center is a unit of the Defence Intelligence Agency.
B.The Armed Forces Medical Intelligence Center is a unit of the Defence Intelligence Agency. AFMIC is the only organization in the world with this comprehensive medical intelligence mission.
C.The National Ground Intelligence Center is a subordinate branch to the U.S. Army Intelligence and Security Command. The NGIC provides scientific and technical intelligence (S& TI) and general military intelligence (GMI) on foreign ground forces in support of military commanders, force and materiel developers, Department of the Army, Department of Defense, and National-level decision makers.
D.The National Air and Space Intelligence Center is subordinate to the US Air Force, Air Intelligence Agency.
E.A section in the Office of Naval Intelligence handles technical intelligence activities for the US Navy. Those activities were formerly carried out by the Naval Intelligence Service and by its successor the Naval Technical Intelligence Center.
F.Besides these military units The National Security Agency takes up scientific and technical analysis on foreign communications and communications security equipment, as well as foreign research in these areas.
G.The CIA is also authorized to collect Technical Intelligence and Economic Intelligence, which is considered as a part of Technical Intelligence.
In addition to the above, according to the US National Counterintelligence Executive (NCIX), 108 countries tried to obtain US technology during the fiscal year 2005. Most of the effort, however, centered on a small number of countries like China, Russia Japan etc. In the USA systematic collection of intelligence about theft of technical data by foreign countries was systematically started in 1997. Some methodologies adopted for such intelligence collection may include:
- A.Stealing of economic and technical data is rather common operations that exploit business relationships, marketing and sales phase. There are also efforts targeted at individuals with sensitive knowledge.
B.Such intelligence is generated often by asking companies for classified, sensitive, or export-controlled information. In some cases, a single would-be foreign buyer sent out multiple requests to a variety of US companies, searching for a seller willing to ignore or bend export-licensing requirements.
C.Joint ventures are often used to bring intelligence collectors in contact with people or facilities with sensitive information
D.Offering support services to facilities established with foreign collaboration can camouflage intelligence operators to gather clues about all sorts of manufacturing details. .
E.Conventions and trade shows offer scopes for gathering economic intelligence. It can be quite easy to enter a show for the industry only. It is not difficult to fake documents to access entrance and examinations of the wares displayed.
F.Use of spyware or other malicious hacking techniques to penetrate information systems of foreign governments and sensitive industries are normal practices of the western countries and the Russian federation. In case the USA succeeds in hacking the website of China’s missile system the Chinese may not know about the operation for a long time.
Most industrially advanced countries like Russia, China, Japan, Korea, Vietnam, Germany, France etc are involved in collection of economic intelligence as a part of Technical Intelligence. The famous case of Dr. A Q Khan of Pakistan stealing nuclear technology data, sharing it with China and manufacturing uranium enriching plants and making nuclear bombs for Pakistan is a recent classical case. The storm over “open nuclear marketing” by Pakistan to North Korea, Iran and Libya is still raging the world. The events are even endangering global security with the distinct possibility of the jihadi terrorists accessing the nuclear arsenal of instable Pakistan.
India has taken steps to set up the Central Economic Intelligence Bureau of India, an apex body to coordinate gathering of economic intelligence, detecting economic offenders in collaboration with different economic intelligence and enforcement bodies and with the Central Bureau of Investigation and the Intelligence Bureau. It also acts as a Secretariat of the Economic Intelligence Council which acts as the apex body to ensure full co-ordination among the various agencies.
The Economic Intelligence Council of India was formed to facilitate coordination amongst the Enforcement Agencies dealing with economic offences and ensure operational coordination amongst them, a two tier system has been established by the Government of India with an Economic Intelligence Council at the Centre under the Chairmanship of Union Minister of Finance, and 18 Regional Economic Intelligence Committees at different places in India.
Among the non-government bodies two agencies are worth mentioning. International Market Assessment (IMA) India provides business enterprises with strategic research, business intelligence and market insights together with sound independent advice on various aspects of the operating environment. Established in 1994, the firm offers four broad service lines built around the objective of delivering authentic, analytical and practical insights to country managers and other senior executives.
The Economic Intelligence Service is designed to present an analytical macroeconomic view of the Indian economy. It brings out a Monthly Review of the Indian Economy. This approximately 100-page document provides CMIE’s view on the Indian economy. It contains forecasts on Indian economy and presents the most regularly updated statistics along with descriptive analysis for a range of lead economic indicators.
For Technical Intelligence management the National Defense Intelligence College of the USA offers courses in Master of Science in Technical Intelligence. This program enables the students to know the global context that shapes the world system and understand the complexity, velocity, and interdependency of world issues and events. The core curriculum is designed to have students develop global awareness, and understand how historical, economic, cultural, political and social contexts affect intelligence and national security. Such understanding is essential for a program founded on the premise that world events can only be understood by employing a variety of disciplinary perspectives, and that they must be understood in a global, regional, and local context. The students are required to be graduates. All prospective NDIC students must be U.S. citizens who are members of the U.S. Armed Forces or federal government employees. Additionally, the students must possess security clearance.
The Indian Army also recruits soldiers (10+2 qualification) for Technical cadres. The other major direct recruitment is Indian Army Technical Graduate Course for which an engineering degree in different disciplines can only qualify to be recruited. This cadre of officers is assigned to The Corps of Engineers. These officers are not designed after the Master of Science in Technical Intelligence of the USA.
Among the civil intelligence agencies the Intelligence Bureau and the RAW recruit officers equivalent to the ranks of Sub-Inspector of Police, styled as Assistant Central Intelligence Officer (Grade II), Technical. Rarely some recruitment is also made to higher ranks. However, these officers do not perform the duties of aggressive gathering of Technical Intelligence, as the terminology has been defined by the global intelligence agencies. They are assigned to certain areas of ElInt, SigInt, ComInt and other branches of TechInt. They are generally designed to assist the general duty intelligence officers in running operations where electronic and similar gadgets are involved and also in Signal Intelligence management.
TechInt is heavily dependent on HumInt, ElInt, ImInt, SigInt, ComInt, MasInt and CominInt (computer intrusion intelligence) etc branches of tradecraft. TechInt, as the subject is commonly understood in India is a part of the intelligence cycle, the process through which intelligence is obtained, produced, and made available to users. We propose not to discuss the military aspects of the TechInt, but incorporate in this discussion the interrelations of ElInt and HumInt. In its proper implication, an ElInt expert is an intelligence operator who operates electronic monitoring and related equipment to detect electronic emissions: conducts continuous search and monitoring of assigned portions of radio frequency spectrum, using special search or monitoring equipment. He observes video presentations or listens to signal to determine primary characteristics of monitored signals. The expert operates cameras to photograph signals, operates recorders to record signals, determines azimuth from which the signal originated, using direction finder procedures. He determines accurately and rapidly parameters, directional bearing, and point of origin of electronic data recorded on photographic film and magnetic tape through operation of technical laboratory analysis equipment, such as electronic parameter display consoles, oscilloscope, electronic counters and sorters, X-Y plotters, sonographs, visographs, brush recorders, video and audio playback units, complex viewers, visual projectors, and associated analog and digital equipment.
The description given above cannot be found in one person. Several expert operators work in assigned fields and the data obtained are processed and assessed by the hierarchical experts and the final product is shared with the HumInt analyst and controlling authority. Utilization of the data procured and processed is subject to directions of the hierarchical chief. Very sensitive information are immediately shared with the political policy maker, as in the case of satellite phone talks between General Musharraf and General Ziauddin Butt, the ISI chief intercepted by an Indian intelligence agency, which clarified amply to India and international community that General Musharraf had plotted the surprise attack on India in Kargil sector of Jammu and Kashmir.
ElInt has a broader connectivity with SigInt. However, in regular intelligence collection and collation through HumInt, certain electronic gadgets are used. In normal intelligence vocabulary in India use of such gadgets is described as ElInt, in aid to HumInt. In specialized application these electronic equipments aid to general information and data collection for supplementing HumInt efforts. Some of the electronic gadgets used in daily intelligence operations are: still and video camera, miniature-micro cameras with built in radio transmission, miniature audio/radio signal emitting bugs, hand held micro document copiers, bug detectors, miniature GPS bugs and miniature voice recording devices etc.
Use of still cameras, normal, miniature and special resolution lens cameras and infrared cameras for night shooting capability are usually used to take close up, long focus and nighttime photographs of suspects. Conventional cameras have several disadvantages. The shutter noise even in a SLR digital camera can be heard by people standing nearby; often flash is used in case the subject is located in dim light area. However, India’s hope for silent cameras eluded the intelligence community for a long time. Certain research organisations in India were tasked (DRDO and IIT included) to produce noiseless cameras. However, in global market quite cameras like Rollie 35, Leica M7 and Hexar-AF etc are available and are popular. Certain Cell Phone cameras are also noise less. However, the US Congress has deliberated on a Bill to ban silent Cell Phones. The Mobile Phone Predator Act (Bill HR 414) was introduced in the Congress on 01.09.2009 sought to ban noiseless Cell Phone cameras.
Standard cameras are used to photograph a static subject or a counter intelligence subject with a camouflaged camera. Camouflaging devices are adopted to suit the location and occasion. The standard practice is to camouflage a miniature camera in a briefcase, lady’s purse with automatic switching facility. Once pressed, the camera can take photograph every 3 to 5 minutes, as per predetermined timing set by the technicians. Certain miniature digital cameras can be concealed in pens. Few illustrations are given below. These equipments can be still or radio transmitting video cameras. In private detection work some such fancy miniature cameras are in use. Use of such cameras in the intelligence agencies is rather infrequent due to paucity of the gadgets and lack of training of the intelligence generating general duty officers. The problem in Indian agencies lay in the policy of watertight compartmentalization between the general duty and technical officers. The two cadres normally do not trust each other and very few general duty intelligence-generating cadres are adequately exposed to the use of such electronic equipments. Even most of the senior level officers coming from the police ranks (RAW cadre in case of the external intelligence) are not intensively exposed to the use of sophisticated electronic equipments. Such gaps between the two cadres often create difficulties in the application of ElInt equipments by the general duty officers.
Some micro cameras can be camouflaged in watch, keychain and pens
Use of micro video cameras had immensely helped in concluding certain counterespionage operations. Individual XX was a serving technologist in a defence related research project developing and manufacturing certain kinds of ground to air indigenous missiles. A static surveillance near the work premises of XX noticed his habit of leaving office late in the evening between 8 and 9 pm, while most other employees left latest by 6.30 pm. Mr. XX was in the habit of taking a private bus to his residence in a south Delhi location. One late evening he was noticed taking lift from a Delhi registered car. This was repeated on five occasions. After dropping XX near his residence the car generally moved around in different parts of the city. On a lucky day a static surveillance team noticed the car entering an embassy through the rear side family gate. This pattern was confirmed after 6 sightings. The operations desk decided to use an infrared still camera with night vision facility to take photographs of Mr. XX while entering and exiting the car. The Car driver was also snapped on three occasions. After analyzing the data it was decided that a senior officer would accost Mr. XX and record the conversation. Mr. XX was approached during lunch break when he visited a nearby eatery. He was shown the photographs of his entry and exit from the questioned car and the photos of the driver, who was identified as a non-diplomat employee of the embassy in question. Mr. XX caved in. He was taken to a safe house and interrogated. A wristwatch video camera was used that radio transmitted the interrogation sessions to a nearby video recorder placed in an adjacent room.
During interrogation Mr. XX broke down and admitted on video recorder that he was trapped by the foreign spy on the lure of money which he badly needed to marry off his three daughters. Over three years he had earned about half a million rupees. He was allowed to go under advice that he should not betray any emotion and continue to take ride from the foreign agent. In the meantime, the seniors of Mr. XX were taken into confidence and he was shifted to some non-critical area. He was given option to cooperate by feeding doctored information to the foreign spy for some time. It must me mentioned that the “playback” operation was planned after the issue was discussed between the two ministers of the government handling internal security and defence matters. After several “playback” operations the foreign spy was neutralized and sent back to his own country. Mr. XX was pardoned with caution for his collaboration with the agencies with some departmental punishment.
In another successful ElInt operation use of a micro pinhole video camera (no radio transmission but with audio recording facility) had helped an intelligence agency in documenting photos of top leadership of a Sikh guerrilla force and their hideout in a marshy location in Punjab. A Sikh operator having access to one of the guerrilla forces was induced to cultivate his friend and earn his confidence by supplying certain material benefits. Gradually he was given to understand that his friend could supply small weapons and ammunition to the guerrilla force, provided the friend could arrange a meeting with the chief of the force. A policy decision was taken to deliver two pistols as a taken to earn confidence of the top leader of the dreaded guerrilla force leader. The government was kept in picture. After the intelligence operative earned confidence of the chief by presenting two pistols he was granted passage to visit the main hideout in the marshy tract.
The Operations officer developed a unique idea. He tried out implanting a micro-mini pinhole video camera (no transmission, but with audio facility) inside the turban of the trusted operator. The recording time was for about 6 hours. After the trial was successful in simulated conditions the camera was implanted inside the turban and the operator was directed to proceed to the target area. The operator interacted with the guerrilla force chief and promised to deliver twelve pistols and 300 cartridges for an amount of rupees three lakhs. The deal cemented, a date was fixed for delivery of the weapon in a particular place of worship about three kilometers away from the hideout around 9 p.m. On the given day the operator approached the area and verified if the chief and his bodyguards were in position. After his signal was received the security forces surrounded the place of worship and after two hours gun battle the guerrilla chief surrendered with four bodyguards. For the first time a miniature pinhole camera was used camouflaging inside a turban. Later a few more operations were carried out using the same modus operandi.
The top decision maker of the government once directed that the hotel suite of a visiting foreign dignitary should be bugged and video camera should be used to monitor his activities. It was not known that a ‘charming mole’ was introduced in the game, who was also supposed to spend the night in the suite. Audio bugging was carried out in the guise of security checking of the room. Listening post was established in a nearby room. Since there was no opportunity to drill the walls to insert pinhole video cameras it was decided that two radio-capable video cameras would be installed- one camouflaged in the flower vase and the other inserted inside the frame of an artist’s fine depiction of a mountain peak. The end results were not analyzed by the operations team. These were passed on to the top decision maker for final consumption and likely future use by the political decision maker. It is not prudent to name the visiting foreign dignitary. Only comment that can be made that soon after his visit to India certain aspects of bilateral relations between the two countries improved vastly.
On another occasion an opportunity was offered to use a micro camera hidden in a thick Eyeglass Frames. The camera transmitted signals to a miniature recorder secured in an inner pocket of the blazer. The tiny camera operating on mercury battery could record for 3 hours. In western markets more powerful eyeglass frame mounted cameras are available. Some clandestine listening devices are also implanted inside calculators, palmtops and iPods etc.
Normal and miniature cameras have diverse utility in intelligence gathering and counterintelligence operations. The only disadvantage with micro video cameras is that battery life is limited and under favorable circumstances certain cameras can function for about 2 hours. A specific operation requiring constant video recording and transmission for 4day for 24 hours had presented a puzzle to an operating agency. After several research attempts it was found that the micro camera could be rigged and connected to an array of 6-nickel cadmium batteries suitably camouflaged inside a small honey beehive. Researchers collected a honey beehive by driving the bees away with smoke-torch. The hive was tooled to insert the battery pack and was concealed near the window ledge which provided a clear view of the main activity room of the subject under coverage; an intellectual suspected for his live connectivity with a group of terrorists. The fabricated battery served for the desired duration and the camera and the hive were removed after the operation was complete. The subject of coverage belonged to a northwestern state of India. The evidence gathered, it was reported, was able to neutralize the intellectual.
Besides use of photo technology, the intelligence agencies depend on radio bugs, both audio and video in ElInt operations. In recent times miniature radio-enabled bugs have revolutionized ElInt operations. Bugs are used to gain clandestine information from targeted subjects by implanting the electronic devices inside their homes, offices, cars and even on their person. Every intelligence generator is not trained in clandestine bugging operations. When an operation of this dimension is conceived by the operations chief and the controlling authority the Tech-ops operators are summoned and a compatible team is formed with personnel drawn from Int-ops and Tech-ops ranks. While the Tech-ops personnel should have the privilege to carry out the actual planting operation the Int-ops personnel maintain the right to decide where exactly the bug is to be planted, what camouflage would best suit the subject, décor of the room and accessibility. All such details are discussed by the operations chief and flexible decisions are taken with variable options.
Some bugs are supposed to be permanent or for long duration. In such cases, practically in all electronic bugging operations the disguise should be given top priority. In long term bugging operations the miniature bugs can be secreted inside a wall mounted electrical socket or plug. Connected with main electricity circuit such bug lasts for infinite period till retrieved or neutralized by bug detectors. In certain applications miniature bugs were connected to decorated lamps, ceiling mounted decorative lamps, inside television sets and telephones. In such cases also the planted bugs, connected to main electric supply system function for indefinite period.
Some of the micro bugs used in such operations are shown in the illustration below:
Such bugs are not more than one inch dimension with inbuilt batteries, which can last for about 7 days, unless connected to main power supply with adaptable diodes and transistors. In an operation it was suggested that the main living room of the suspect required bugging for gathering sensitive information related to state security. Gaining access to the house and the room was rather difficult. Besides a housekeeper, presence of a vicious looking pet dog presented immense difficulties. An intelligence operator masqueraded as a domestic servant and over a period befriended the Garhwali housekeeper of the target. New to the area he was looking for a carpenter to repair some dining chair legs and a rocking chair that was dear to his master. Over a lunch the Garhwali was assured by the operator that he knew a good carpenter whom he would bring along when his master was out of home.
A trained carpenter was taken along to survey the room and the furniture. He suggested that at least two days would be required to fabricate the dining chair legs and another day for replacing the rocking chair foam covers. A deal was struck. Three dining chair legs of the original design were fabricated in which two miniature radio-bugs were implanted. These bugs could be switched on from a distance of 800 meters and switched off when not required. A compatible receiver was placed within 800 meters and the room conversations could be recorded. A similar device was implanted inside the wooden frame of the rocking chair also. Such micro trans-receivers operate on Ultra High Frequency and depending on battery life can function from 5 days to 30 days.
Some bugs are planted inside the telephone and mobile phones of the targeted suspects. The normal problem of gaining access is insurmountable. However, for an ingenious intelligence operator it is not impossible to gain access even inside a defence installation. For line telephone two approaches are involved: gaining access to the target phone, replace with a similar phone treated with a bug or planting a bug in the lime-pair of the junction box or the line connecting the targeted phone.
Bugging mobile phones pose serious problems. However, there are software in the market that can listen to Bluetooth enabled mobile phones, Black Berry mobiles and laptop computers. Besides conversation SMS also can be intercepted from the targeted numbers. Where the Bluetooth enabled phones are not used, depending on accessibility thumbnail sized (Israel made) bugs can be connected to the SIM card for monitoring all calls.
While on cell phone monitoring we propose to introduce some novel innovations that have reached the market. The cell phone interceptor is one of the latest inventions introduced. The primary aim of developing this unit is to intercept or capture mobile phone conversations taking place around. The person with this unit can call and listen to the sounds and voices in his or her surroundings, and this works even if the target is not using his or her own phone. Hijacking a mobile number and using it by unscrupulous persons has become a common threat.
One of the most popular units ever introduced is the SecPro Cell Interceptor. It is one of the most effective GSM cellular interceptors that functions off-air. The SecPro is valued for several good features. In the first place, it possesses an intercept system that is very active. Notable about it is its characteristic of being non-detectable and highly performing. The unit can even be upgraded to carry a number of advanced capabilities. Other than that, this interceptor is powered with multi-channel and recording features.
Another model of a cell phone interceptor is the GSM Cellular Interceptor, designed with advanced monitoring features. This product is created to intercept cellular signals and traffic, and while SecPro is sophisticated in style, this too tops the list of the most advanced. Perhaps the best thing about this product is that it can be customized to fit certain specifications. Thus, users or buyers of this highly innovative technology can truly benefit from the capabilities that it has to offer, while enjoying the features they like.
There are many wonders in ElInt operations. The Wall Listening Device is a unique ElInt aid that can record room conversations from outside. This unique device is used to listen through walls. It is capable of listening through up to 20″ of solid concrete, doors, windows etc. The operator can also record by plugging in to recorder. This device is made for professional intelligence operators and is the top of the line for listening through the wall which allows the highest possible sound quality. However, if the wall is very thick and there is high pitch music in the room the interceptor may not wok ideally.
In some cases micro spy wireless Audio Bugs are planted in a target room. Most likely secreting spaces are green plant pots, picture frames and decoration piece. The wireless micro audio bug is a composition of oscillator transmitters and receiver. There is no need for GSM card and zero configurations. It works on fixed special FM frequency special signal transmission encryption so that other receivers are not listening to the audio signals. The actual size of the bug is half of the size of an AAA size battery. The radio broadcast can be picked up from a distance of 100 meters. Amazing miniaturized GSM Quadriband audio transmitter, for ambient locations such as vehicle or domestic room, remote unlimited audio surveillance are also used in advanced western countries. India is yet to introduce these sophisticated clandestine devices.
There are innumerable uses of ElInt gadgets for collecting and denying intelligence. One of the handy devices is Pen Microphone. This is better used along with a micro cassette recorder that is hidden inside the coat and a wire cleverly connects the pen microphone and the recorder. Some cassettes can record for 120 minutes. This instrument simplifies the intelligence requirement of clandestine recoding of interlocutions with a suspect.
In case it is not possible to gain access into a suspect location to plant a bug, the job can be accomplished by planting window bugs on the outside panel of the target room. The bugs are capable of picking up the sound waves and transmitting to a distance of 100 meters. The intelligence operators can physically handle a compatible recorder or a camouflaged recorder that switches on and off on receipt and tune-out of electronic impulses, can be secured inside a bush and can even be hidden in a green tree. Illustrated below are two typical window bugs which look like a beetle and a dragonfly. These bugs can perform for about 6 hours and given the security circumstances, can be retrieved and replaced.
Besides such bugs there are sophisticated laser devices which can aim at a closed targeted window and pick up the vibrations and transmit to a receiver. Certain sensitive rooms are constructed with sound attenuation facilities. Some such rooms are designed to be rooms within a bigger room; thus providing buffer from snooping. In Delhi, it was noticed that a Persian Gulf country, while constructing its chancery building had provided complete lead-sheet wrapping of two rooms-the ambassador’s room and the room of the cipher handling and communication officers. Lead insulation of a room can minimize acoustic wave transmission.
The US government has prescribed certain standards for construction of highly sensitive rooms which are used for important project discussions. The federal government has several regulations for protecting sensitive conversations.
They apply mostly to Secure Compartmented Information Facilities (SCIF) and are:
- 1.Defense Intelligence Agency Manual (DIAM) 50-3. Although this document is no longer the primary one related to physical security standards, the chapter on audio security notes the value of sound masking as a tool, but is not specific. This is the earliest publicly available document on the subject.
2.Air Force Pamphlet (AFP) 88-26, 1988. This document goes into great detail on the methods for creating sound attenuation around a secure room. However, it also states: “The employment of sound masking in wall voids, doors, windows, and overhead ducts may be a more economical technique to achieve acceptable transmission losses.”
3.Director of Central Intelligence Directive (DCID) 6/9 2002. This document is now the primary unclassified document on physical security in SCIF. Annex E pertains to “Sound Masking Techniques”. It states: “…systems are designed to protect SCI against being inadvertently overheard by the casual passerby, not to protect against deliberate interception of audio.” The author’s experience with secure masking systems suggests that the military and its contractors as well as other government agencies are more concerned about the deliberate listener. It is likely that a publicly unavailable document exists that provides guidance for this higher level of protection. The DCID document does note that sound-masking devices may be used on doors, windows, walls, and vents or ducts, where applicable. Unfortunately, the document erroneously permits music as the sole source of masking. Music can be beneficial only when used in conjunction with sound masking.
4.Gramm Leach Blily Act. In compliance with this law, all financial institutions must protect the confidentiality of customer information and guard against any threats to the security of such information.
No such regulations exist in India as well as for Indian diplomatic premises abroad.
There are several sound-masking, sound equalizer and noise mixing equipments that can be used to minimize eavesdropping by intelligence agents and rival business competitors. The easiest means of denying eavesdropping facility is to play loudly a radio set to create ambience noise and continue the dialogue with at as low decibel as possible. In India, there are standing instructions in the intelligence agencies and defence departments about acoustic security. However, in practice, these rules are more breached than observed. It is known that certain foreign embassies in Delhi have ElInt and SigInt facilities to intercept cell phone, satellite phone, computer communication and even eavesdropping facilities.
There is no end of the wonder world of ElInt. There are certain radio bugs which can be planted in a suspect car used by the target. His conversations with any accomplice can be picked up by another intelligence agency car following at a safe distance of 200 meters. In a sensitive case of a suspect from Kashmir it was noticed that he was taking lift from a car belonging to a political leader. Under orders from controlling authority the target car was bugged and conversations between the suspect and the political leader were recorded for four days. As the conversation verged on threat to national security, the matter was brought to the notice of the political decision maker. It was learnt that adequate measures were taken to sensitize the Union Law Maker.
Complete body mounted bugs is listening device that is wired in the body of the intelligence operator. He can move around in the target location without any ostensible device in his hands, keep on recording conversations, and even live transmitting the same to nearby parked car. Dimension of the equipment is: 10х4х4 mm, operating time of the micro-headphone is 62 hours and service time of a micro headphone: 7000 hours. This convenient device has not been introduced in India. Instead, some enterprising officers hide a micro recording device on their body and tape the microphone to their hand, hidden under a coat. This is a cumbersome process.
Clandestine intelligence intrusion is basically a state activity, though many private players have started using ElInt equipments to serve private parties for economic intelligence, matrimonial discords, divorce cases, corporate competition etc matters. However, bugging the apparel or shoe of a suspect is basically in the domain of government agencies. There are two distinct equipments which can be used to track constant movement of a person on foot or in a car. On occasions coat buttons are substituted by similar buttons with concealed ElInt radio device that emit radiation through GPS system hooked up to a satellite. Such radiations are picked up by a central control room and surveillance teams are directed to pick up the subject. Similarly, GPS enabled micro bugs are inserted inside belts and shoe heels.
In an operation in Punjab a situation arose when a person enjoying confidence of the agency and also of the terrorist organisation was required to be deputed to a hideout in Goindwal area in Amritsar. The area skirted marshlands of the Harike Lake and could be approached on foot. It was decided that a GPS enabled bug would be planted inside the scabbard of the kripan (small sword) worn by the Sikhs. The purpose was to keep track of the person and rescue him if the terrorists kidnapped and detained him. After three days constant tracking the person returned to his launching base safely. In a similar operation a youth was won over and persuaded to join a gang going to Pakistan for training and collecting weapons. Since the kripan scabbard was a religious item of personal attire the same trick was applied and presence of the trusted youth was located in a forested area near Changa Manga near Lahore, where a camp was set up to train the Sikh youths. The gang was allowed to return to India without any encounter to secure safety and identity of the trusted youth. But the operation proved beyond doubt that Changa Manga was an important training facility of the Inter Services Intelligence set up for the Sikh militants.
For bugging a targeted car it is possible to insert a GPS enabled bug in the car of the suspect. Covert vehicle tracking can now be accomplished from the privacy of a computer using the new GPS Satellite system. The system consists of a GPS Receiver and Cellular Modem, which is fastened to the target vehicle with two strong magnets. Power is supplied either by a field replaceable battery pack which powers the system for approximately 5 days. It is also possible to install a GPS bug connected to the main battery of the car. The GPS enabled bug sends signals to the control room enabling the intelligence operators to track the suspect car. However, in western countries even trucking companies use GPS systems to locate their truck plying long distance hauls.
The wonderful world of ElInt does not end here. In the famous Coomar Narain espionage case (1985) several contacts of Narain in the office of the President of India, Ministry of Defence Production, Industry etc, of Coomar Narain used to steal official documents and visit a shop in Khan Market for copying. These photocopies were passed to foreign intelligence officers by Coomar Narain. One of the documents was accidentally spotted by an agency officer in the Khan Market shop. This initiated an intelligence operation and arrest of a number of suspects selling government documents to foreign intelligence agencies. These days a secret foreign operator need not go through the hassles of using photocopying machines in a commercial establishment. All that he has to do is to use a miniature photocopier that can be hidden in pocket. Ten A4 size papers can be copied in less than five minutes. There are various brands in the market. But the most convenient one is the illustrated pen photocopier.
This equipment is versatile and can be used for stealing, storing and physically carrying photocopies of bulky documents. Stored materials in laptop computers can also be copied by this equipment. It can be used as a USB.
The world of ElInt is full of surprises. Even as the spooks manage to eavesdrop, steal information with application of scientific tools there are tools that try to deny information and detect planted devises. The new Micro Audio/Video Bug Detector is a tiny but powerful RF vibrating detector small enough to be worn on body without being noticed. This tiny micro sized unit measures an amazing 2 1/8 inches long X 1 3/4 inches wide by 1/2 inch deep. It’s a full-featured dual bug detector that silently vibrates to alert about the presence of eavesdropping equipment. It can be used as a covert body worn detector with the included arm band or as a conventional bug detector to sweep a room or office. There are several brands of such micro-detectors in the western markets and in markets in Korea, Japan and Taiwan.
There are many excellent devices to secure phone calls. But to secure room conversation one needs the Acoustical Privacy Jammer. This device will protect instantly from a “bug” even if you did not detect it previously. It works by generating unfiltrable random white noise – desensitizing any microphone – based eavesdropping. It protects from tape recorders, shotgun microphones, wired devices, and microwave and laser pickups, all the eavesdropper hears is a loud hiss. One homemade remedy is using a radio set at loud pitch to deny any room conversation access to an adversary. This simple method was tried on many occasions in theatres of operation and proved to be successful. A typical acoustic jammer may look like a small buzzing box, illustrated below. However, in large scale jamming operations, say, jamming Pakistani radio and TV beams directed towards a section of Indian people can be locally jammed by using jammers of bigger dimensions with multi-frequency jamming capability of short wave, medium wave and VHF frequencies. Certain embassies in Delhi use jammers with a view to preventing suspected Indian efforts to use laser and radio beams for penetrating the firewalling of the audio facilities inside the diplomatic premises.
A versatile bug detector that is compact and is capable of detecting minutest radiation is now available in the market. This Bug Detector not only tells if a listening devices (bug) is present, LED bar-graph lets the operator zero-in on its exact location. It can cover radiation from 5 MHz to 2 Ghz! This item is popular in VVIP security operations and other sensitive locations. Some of the corporate houses have also adopted this compact bug detector.
Super Sweep-Pro is a big equipment for bug detection. This Counter surveillance Probe/Monitor provides five of the “most desired sweep functions” in one package.
- 1. R.F. probe “sniffs” environment for hidden phone, room or body bugs, remote signals, computer, Fax or Telex transmitters, video transmitters, pulsed tracking transmitters, and even wide band frequency hopping or “burst” bugs.
2. V.L.F. probe tests A.C. outlets, phone lines or suspicious wires for very low frequency “carrier current” signs.
3. Auxiliary audio input enables it to listen to telephones or lines for “hotmikes,” hookswitch by-pass and “infinity” bugs, also unknown wires and cables can be tested for wired microphones.
4. After a sweep, the alarm monitor guards against new devices brought in, remote control activation, or someone tampering with installed equipment.
5. The 24-hour “evidence” recording output will store suspicious sounds on a standard cassette recorder while you are away.
This equipment can quickly and silently detect all major categories of electronic surveillance, including:
- • Room, phone, and body bugs that can transmit conversations
• Video transmitters watching all moves.
• Vehicle tracking beepers giving away location
• Infinity bugs, hook switch bypass or reversals “turned-on” to conversations
• Wired microphones listening inside a wall
• Computer, Fax or Telex transmitters “reading” information.
This equipment, it is learnt, has not been included in the inventory of Indian intelligence agencies. It is, however, not very costly intelligence-denying equipment. There are several brands of such equipments, but for the purpose of this volume this much is good enough to stoke the curiosity of the readers and professionals.
(Readers interest in the wonder world of intelligence may read my book: Intelligence Tradecraft-tools of Spy-Warfare, Manas Publications, Delhi)