48-year-old Sampath Raj, a resident of Aadambakkam in Chennai, has been arrested for installing hidden cameras in various parts of the hostel he was running. Upon investigation, the police found six hidden cameras in the premises, a few even in the washrooms.
This is a real concern for many of us, who either stay in paying-guest accommodations, travel and stay in hotels, use the changing rooms at clothing stores or even the washrooms at public places and gyms.
With spy cameras available on online portals for as less as Rs 500 apiece, it is that much more important to be able to identify these hidden cameras and protect your privacy.
Here are a few ways of doing that:
1. Scan the area well
While it is not possible for us to scan every nook and corner, it will be helpful to do an overall search of the room you will be occupying. Some of the places where these hidden cameras are placed are smoke detectors, wall decors, books, stuffed toys, plants, table lamps, and shelves.
If you find wiring that seems strange or notice any object placed in a place where it should not be – check immediately. It’s always better to err on the side of caution.
Keep your eyes and ears alert as you walk through the house or room. Some hidden cameras make an almost inaudible buzzing sound while in use.
2. Check for two-way mirrors
As a thumb-rule, whenever you enter a changing room or a new space that has a mirror, remember to check if it’s a two-way mirror.
Every mirror, whether it is mounted on a frame or the wall, should not have anything behind it.
Tap it all over to check if it gives a hollow sound. If it does, there could be something behind it.
Another way to detect a two-way mirror is by a fingernail test. Touch the mirror with your fingernail at a 90-degree angle. If the reflection and your fingernail touch each other with no gap in between, it is a two-way mirror.
A conventional mirror has the reflecting surface behind the glass, which shows the gap of a few millimetres between the reflection and the original object.
3. Look for hidden night vision cameras (Red Dot)
Surveillance cameras usually use night vision for night surveillance. Draw the curtains in the room and turn off all the lights. Look around to see if you find any red or green LED lights in the room.
Switch on the camera mode on your smartphone and point it around the room. If you see any red or purple lights (bright or dim), you would have spotted a night vision camera.
If you can’t detect infrared light, do the following as a test. Turn off all the lights in the room and start your smartphone’s camera. Now, use any television/DVD/AC remote and press the buttons while pointing it to the camera. You will see the infrared light emitted by the Infrared LED on the remote.
4. Listen for electronic cracking sounds
Ever heard a cracking sound on a call? Some cell phones will emit a cracking sound when exposed to electromagnetic signals, just like surveillance cameras. Move your phone around the suspected area to check for the interference from a hidden electronic device.
You could also consider investing in an electronic Radio Frequency Sweeper to check if there is any inexplicable wireless or cellular activity that could lead you to a bug.
You would need to turn it on and walk slowly around the area. The sweeper might emit a noise, a light, or a vibration, if it detects any wireless transmissions.
Sometimes it is important to go one step further because these devices are completely hidden from us. The intent of this article is not to create any paranoia; it is to make you aware of ways in which you could protect yourself.
Be informed and stay safe!
(Edited by Shruti Singhal)
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