Posts Taged eavesdrop

Experts warn of ‘epidemic’ of bugging devices used by stalkers

More funding and legal powers are needed for police to stop a surge of stalkers using eavesdropping devices to spy on victims, experts have warned.

By James Hockaday for Metro.co.uk

 

 

Firms paid to detect the bugs say they’re finding more and more of the devices which are readily available on online marketplaces like Amazon and eBay.

Jack Lazzereschi, Technical Director of bug sweeping company Shapestones, says cases of stalking and victims being blackmailed with intimate footage shot in secret has doubled in the past two years.

He told Metro.co.uk: ‘The police want to do something about it, they try to, but usually they don’t have the legal power or the resources to investigate.

‘For us it’s a problem. We try to protect the client, we want to assure that somebody has been protected.’

 

People are paying as little as £15 for listening devices and spy cameras hidden inside desk lamps, wall sockets, phone charger cables, USB sticks and picture frames.

Users insert a sim card into a hidden slot and call a number to listen in on their unwitting targets.

People using hidden cameras can watch what’s happening using an apps on their phones.

Jack says the devices are so effective, cheap and hard to trace to their users, law enforcement prefer using them over expensive old-school devices.

Although every case is different, in situations where homeowners plant devices in their own properties, Jack says there’s usually a legal ‘grey area’ to avoid prosecution.

 

The devices themselves aren’t illegal and they are usually marketed for legitimate purposes like protection, making it difficult for cops to investigate.

There is no suggestion online marketplaces like eBay and Amazon are breaking the law by selling them.

But in some instances, images of women in their underwear have been used in listings – implying more sinister uses for the devices.

Even in cases when people are more clearly breaking the law, Jack says it’s unlikely perpetrators will be brought to justice as overstretched police will prioritise resources to stop violent crime.

Jack’s says around 60 per cent of his firm’s non-corporate cases cases involve stalking or blackmail.

He says it’s become an ‘epidemic’ over the past couple of years with the gadgets more readily available than ever before.

Victims are often filmed naked or having sex and threatened with the threat of footage being put online and in the worst cases children are also recorded.

Jack says UK law is woefully unprepared to deal with these devices compared to countries in the Asian-Pacific region.

In South Korea authorities have cracked down on a scourge of perverts planting cameras in public toilets.

James Williams, director of bug sweepers QCC Global says snooping devices used to be the preserve of people with deep pockets and technological know-how.

He said: ‘It’s gone from that to really being at a place where anybody can just buy a device from the internet.

 

‘Anything you can possibly think of you can buy with a bug built into it. I would say they’re getting used increasingly across the board.’

Suky Bhaker, Acting CEO of the Suzy Lamplugh Trust, which runs the National Stalking Helpline, warned using these gadgets could be a prelude to physical violence.

She said: ‘We know that stalking and coercive control are extremely dangerous and can cause huge harm to the victim, both in terms of their psychological wellbeing and the potential for escalation to physical violence or even murder.

‘The use of surveillance devices or spyware apps by stalkers, must be seen in the context of a pattern of obsessive, fixated behaviour which aims at controlling and monitoring the victim.

 

She added: ‘There should be clarity for police forces that the use of surveillance equipment by stalkers to monitor their victim’s location or communications is a sign that serious and dangerous abuse may be present or imminent.’

‘All cases of stalking or coercive control should be taken seriously and investigated when reported to police.’

The charity is calling for all police forces across the country to train staff in this area.

Earlier this month a policeman known only by his surname Mills was barred from the profession for life for repeatedly dismissing pleas for help from 19-year-old Shana Grice who was eventually murdered by her stalker ex-boyfriend Michel Lane.

 

A spokesman for eBay said: ‘The listing of mini cameras on eBay is permitted for legitimate items like baby monitors or doorbell cameras.

‘However, items intended to be used as spying devices are banned from eBay’s UK platform in accordance with the law and our policy.

‘We have filters in place to block prohibited items, and all the items flagged by Metro have now been removed.’

Amazon declined to comment.

Couple find “spy camera” hidden in clock at Airbnb flat

A couple claims to have discovered a secret camera hidden in a digital clock in the Airbnb flat they were renting.

By Zoe Drewett

Dougie Hamilton and his girlfriend say the camera – which was pointed towards their bed in the holiday apartment – was disguised as a clock but looked suspicious. The 34-year-old said he started investigating the clock after a day of exploring in Toronto, Canada.

He had recently watched a YouTube video on secret ‘spy’ cameras hidden in cuddly toys and buttons, Dougie said. But when he picked up the clock he managed to slide its face off quite easily and was horrified to find a tiny lens that may have been recording them.

On September 7, Dougie, from Glasgow, posted about his discovery on Facebook, writing: If you use Airbnb, then you’ll definitely want to read this and possibly stop using them.’

He explained: We booked a one night stay in a lovely apartment in the center of Toronto last night (September 6). We had a crazy busy day around the city and finally were able to get to the Airbnb and relax or so we thought. I was laying on the couch and this digital clock is facing into the living area and open plan bedroom Left with my thoughts, that video pops into my head, “imagine if it was the spy camera in the clock”.

 

After removing the clock’s charger and discovering a lithium battery in the back of the device the front face of the clock cam off and revealed the camera. The couple have since alerted Airbnb and police in Canada, who are both investigating. Speaking to the Daily Record, Dougie said: (Airbnb) told us the property owner has six other properties and hundreds of reviews, so it looks like we’ve been lucky. We were only in the place for 20 minutes when I noticed the clock. It was connected to a wire like a phone charger which wasn’t quite right. I felt a bit weird even thinking it and I kept telling myself not to be daft. But there was just something.

 

Dougie and his girlfriend – who asked not to be named – said they found the encounter ‘creepy’. A spokeswoman for Toronto police said: We received a call last Thursday regarding what appeared to be a video camera in a clock in an apartment. The investigation is continuing. Airbnb has also told Dougie its security team are looking into the claims and offered him a full refund. They said they would be canceling upcoming reservations for the owner’s properties, he added. A spokesperson for Airbnb said: We take privacy issues extremely seriously and have a zero tolerance policy for this behavior. We have removed the host from the platform while we investigate and are providing the guest with our full support.

 

STALKER HELL Ex-boyfriend spied on lover by hiding secret cameras and listening devices in her home

Wayne Bamford, 47, was told he faces a ‘significant custodial sentence’ because of the risks he faces to women

By Robin Perrie

JEALOUS Wayne Bamford is facing jail after he placed covert listening devices in his ex-partner’s bedroom during a stalking campaign.

Bamford, 47, refused to accept their relationship was over after Joanna Dawson ended it and launched a “highly sophisticated” covert operation to keep tabs on her.

He was able to phone in to the devices which then provided a live feed so he could hear what was going on in her bedroom.

Over a period of 15 days he connected to the devices 1,600 times, a court heard.

But the surveillance op was foiled when mum-of-one Joanne sought advice from a spy shop after suspecting he might have bugged her home.

He was told he faces a “significant custodial sentence” because of the risks he faces to women.

His case was heard on the same day that Corrie Star Kym Marsh backed our Stop a Stalker campaign.

Kym, who has twice been targeted, urged readers to sign our petition backing an MP’s bid to increase police power to combat stalkers.

Bamford and Joanne began a relationship in May 2016 and started an accident management business together six months later.

But their relationship quickly turned sour and ended in January 2017.

Prosecutor Anthony Moore told Bradford crown court that Joanne’s suspicions were raised when Bamford appeared to comment on her movements.

She became even more concerned when she contacted a locksmith to boost security and Bamford texted her saying: “There is no need to change your locks”.

She visited a spy shop for advice and was told her what to look for. She returned home and found a listening device in her bedroom.

Joanne told the court: “He played me a recording in my own house and told me he had paid someone to place a device on the outside of my house which I did not believe.

“I went to a spy shop in Leeds and asked them, ‘if I wanted to bug someone’s house what do you do?’ “He told me what to look for.” She later found a second device hidden behind a TV in her bedroom and Bamford, of Gildersome, near Leeds, was arrested.

Bamford admitted stalking causing serious alarm or distress but a trial of issue was held yesterday after the prosecution and defence could not agree on the basis of his guilty plea.

He claimed to have fitted only one of the listening devices and said she had fitted the other to keep tabs on another ex.

But the judge, Recorder Anthony Hawks, said: “I find the complainant entirely plausible.

“I find the defendant evasive and dishonest. I totally reject his account that the complainant was responsible.

“I’m very concerned about the risk you may present to people. You were prepared to engage in a highly sophisticated way to stalk that woman.

Amazon Echo turned into snooping device by Chinese hackers

‘ALEXA, SNOOP ON MY WESTERN BUDDIES’ is potentially a command Chinese hackers barked at an Amazon Echo after they managed to turn it into a snooping device.

By Roland Moore-Colyer

Cybersecurity boffins from Chinese firm Tencent’s Blade security research team exploited various vulnerabilities they found in the Echo smart speaker to eventually coax it into becoming an eavesdropping device.

The hackers showed off the snooping speaker at the DefCon security conference, reported Wired, using it as a demonstration for the potential for smart home devices to be used for surveillance.

 
But before you boot your Echo or Google Home out of the nearest window, the hackers noted that getting into the Echo was hardly an easy process, and Amazon now has fixes for the security holes.

“After several months of research, we successfully break the Amazon Echo by using multiple vulnerabilities in the Amazon Echo system, and [achieve] remote eavesdropping,” a description of the hackers work, provided to Wired, explained.

“When the attack [succeeds], we can control Amazon Echo for eavesdropping and send the voice data through the network to the attacker.”

The hackers first needed to create a spying-capable Echo, which involved a multi-step penetration technique with enough intricacies to get past the device’s built-in security. This included taking apart the Echo, removing its flash chip and writing custom firmware onto it before remounting the chip.

Once done, the Echo then had to be connected to the same network as a target device Echo device. From there, the hackers could exploit a vulnerability in Amazon’s Whole Home Audio Daemon, which can communicate with other Echo devices on the network, and gain control over targeted Echo gadgets.

And, from there, they could then snoop on their victims and pass recording back to the malicious Echo or pipe all manner of sound through the hijacked Echo.

The technique is hardly an easy or particularly remote way to hack an Echo, but it does conjure up some techniques spies could apply in surveillance operations, providing they have permission to sneak into a person’s house, or they could go rogue like Ethan Hunt does in pretty much every Mission Impossible flick.

The whole situation also highlights how security in such devices needs to be given as much attention as other smart features, as there’s already been a swathe of examples where lax security in smart or connected devices has lead to hack attacks.

Pervert landlord watched tenants having sex and made 180 videos of naked women after installing hidden cameras

Paul Dunster, 59, from Portsmouth in Hampshire, would also watch his tenants showering and made films of his unsuspecting victims over a 10 year period

By Danya Bazaraa

A pervert landlord watched his tenants having sex and showering after planting hidden cameras in their rooms, a court heard.

Paul Dunster, 59, made a staggering 183 videos of unsuspecting naked women who rented rooms from him over a 10 year period to ‘satisfy his sexual needs’.

A judge told him it was a “sad” and “disgusting” story.

Police raided former security worker Dunster’s home in Portsmouth, Hampshire, and found two memory cards containing the voyeuristic videos.

He initially denied two charges of voyeurism but later admitted making the secret videos after setting up cameras in the bedroom and bathroom of one of the properties he rented out.

Prosecutor David Reid told Portsmouth Crown Court: “The first memory card had 18 videos which showed sexual encounters between men and women in the bedroom.

“Those videos lasted a total of 20 minutes but none of the tenants were aware of the camera.

“The second memory card was taken from the bathroom and showed women having baths and showers – women who were also totally unaware they were filmed.

“There was significant planning to this and it was an abuse of trust as the women were tenants.”

The court heard army veteran Dunster was landlord of seven flats and had total outstanding mortgages of £870,000.

Daniel Reilly, mitigating, told the hearing: “Many residents are extremely grateful he lets them rent rooms the way he does.”

Sentencing Dunster, Judge David Melville QC said: “The residents would have been disgusted to know you had a camera set up in the bedroom to film people having sex.

“I’m sure people would also have been disgusted to know you set up a camera in the bathroom to satisfy your sexual needs.

“It is sad story and one which is disgusting.”

Dunster was ordered to pay a £5,000 fine plus £500 in costs, and was given 100 hours of unpaid work with 20 rehabilitation days.
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Mystery surrounds device found in wallet near playground at Hamilton park

The person who discovered the wallet believes it housed a pinhole camera

Hamilton police detectives are trying to unravel a mystery after a strange electronic device was discovered hidden in a wallet left near a playground in an east end park.

By Adam Carter

A Reddit user who said they discovered the wallet posted that they believe it housed a pinhole camera and a battery, but police were not able to confirm that Friday afternoon.

“We’re not sure what this is,” Const. Lorraine Edwards told CBC News. “We can’t confirm that it’s a camera.”

Police say the wallet was found by park staff at Sam Mason Park near Queenston Road and Nash Road North.

Reddit user Jdm67 posted photos of the wallet Friday morning.

The poster said he or she opened up the wallet looking for a driver’s licence, but instead found what the poster believed to be a pinhole camera, a battery, and a memory card.

“It was set up near the playground with a hole for the camera to view through,” the post reads.

“It was still on, and it seemed like it may be streaming because the WiFi light was on still.”

Edwards said investigators are now trying to figure out who left the wallet there and why.  

She also said a wallet seems like an odd choice to house a device to surreptitiously record someone.

“If somebody meant harm by this, a wallet is the first thing that would be picked up at a park,” she said. 

Are millennials keeping their data safe?

Norton reports one in three millennials use the same password for all accounts; 53 percent have shared passwords with friends or family.

By DECCAN CHRONICLE

While the awareness level in millennials is high about the latest trends in technology and gadgets, it is alarming to see how the knowledge is not being translated well into practice, making them an easy prey for hackers. According to the Norton Cybersecurity Insights Report, one in three millennials use the same password for all accounts; approximately 53 percent of millennials have shared desktop passwords with friends or family members. These trends, witnessed amongst millennials, seem to have put them in a vulnerable position and a common victim of cybercrime.

“Despite a steady stream of cybercrime sprees reported by media, millennials appear to feel invincible and skip taking even basic precautions to protect themselves,” said Ritesh Chopra, Director, Norton business for India.  “This disconnect highlights the need for consumer cyber safety and the urgency for consumers to get back to basics when it comes to doing their part to prevent cybercrime.”

This International Youth Day, Norton would like to share tips on how millennials and consumers can take a few steps towards building a more secure online presence.

Craft a strong, unique password using a phrase that consists of a string of words that are easy for you to memorize, but hard for others to guess. Don’t tie your password to publicly available information as it makes it easier for the bad guys to guess your password. The longer, the better! Additionally, if your account or device enables it, consider two-factor authentication for an extra layer of security. Finally, once you’ve created a strong password, stick with it until you’re notified of a security breach. If you feel overwhelmed, use a password manager to help!
Using unprotected Wi-Fi can leave your personal data vulnerable to eavesdropping by strangers using the same network so avoid anything that involves sharing your personal information when connected to an open Wi-Fi network. If you do use public Wi-Fi, consider using a Virtual Private Network (VPN) to secure your connection and help keep your information private.
Make it a habit to change default passwords on all network-connected devices, like smart thermostats or Wi-Fi routers, during set-up. If you decide not to use Internet features on various devices, such as smart appliances, disable or protect remote access as an extra precaution. Also, protect your wireless connections with strong Wi-Fi encryption so no one can easily view the data traveling between your devices.
Think twice before opening unsolicited messages or attachments, particularly from people you don’t know, or clicking on random links.
Protect your devices with a robust, multi-platform security software solution to help protect against the latest threats.

Man stalked ex-partner using car tracking device and hidden camera

James Austin Yarwood was upset when his six year relationship hit a ‘rough patch’, court told.

A man who monitored his ex-partner’s movements using trackers and hidden cameras has pleaded guilty to stalking.

By Derek Bellis

James Austin Yarwood placed a tracker in her car’s glove compartment and a hidden camera beneath her TV so he could see her sitting on the sofa chatting to a visitor – even though he was at his father’s home in Leicester.

Llandudno magistrates court chairwoman Janet Ellis told the 30-year-old: “We are quite shocked at some of the things we have heard.”

The court heard the 30-year-old monitored the movements of his ex-partner with the aid of electronic devices because he was upset by a “rough patch” in their six-year relationship.

Gareth Parry, prosecuting, said Yarwood had also bombarded the victim with phone calls and texts.

Yarwood, of Lower Denbigh Road, St Asaph, pleaded guilty to stalking teacher Keilah Stewart at her home at Abergele between May and mid-June and was given a year’s community order.

He must pay his victim £200 compensation and costs of £170, with 100 hours of unpaid work and he must undertake a “building better relationships” programme with the probation service.

But she didn’t want a restraining order so he could maintain contact with two children.

Craig Hutchinson, defending, said Yarwood had a good job with a motor company.

“These were the actions of a desperate man trying to keep his relationship together”, he said.

He added: “There may be a time when the relationship will rekindle. The hope is that everyone will put this behind them.”

Camouflaged camera used to spy on neighbours

A man who used a hidden camera to secretly film his neighbours has been convicted of harassment.

by Ryan Nugent

Thomas Kelly (66), of 14 Weirview, Lucan, Dublin, covered a camera in camouflage netting and pointed it to the rear of a neighbour’s house.

Mr Kelly claimed in court he was using the camera for security, to monitor property boundaries, and to catch one of his neighbours “masturbating repeatedly” in the man’s back garden.

Gardaí were alerted to the situation after the neighbour, Paul Lynam, discovered two cameras on a cliff at the back of his home in early 2016.

In his evidence at Blanchardstown District Court, Mr Lynam, of 7 Weirview, said: “I’d a feeling for a long time that I was being watched.”

On foot of the discovery, Mr Lynam, along with two other neighbours, journalist John Mooney and Willie Stapleton – whose homes were also captured by the camera, made an official complaint to gardaí on February 11, 2016.

The following day, gardaí arrived with a search warrant for Kelly’s home along with two other properties he owned, 11 and 12 Wearview.

Upon entering 14 Weirview, now-retired Detective Inspector Richard McDonald said in his evidence there were two large flat screen televisions located in the sitting room. One of the TVs was showing regular programmes, with the other having live feeds to all 16 of Kelly’s CCTV cameras.

Gda Damien Reilly also discovered the camera located on top of the cliff to the rear of the house.

The camera, along with the hard drive of the CCTV system and a number of USB sticks on which footage was stored, was seized by gardaí.

Det Insp McDonald said video footage showed zooming in on the rear of certain homes.

 
A further search by gardaí on July 15, 2016, discovered a replacement camera where the initial one was seized. On this occasion more USB sticks were seized.

On reviewing what had been seized initially, gardaí called Mr Lynam in on May 21, 2016, to review the footage.

One clip appeared to show Mr Lynam to the rear of his own home masturbating. When asked by gardaí if that was the case, Mr Lynam said it was.

In his defence, Kelly claimed in court that he had witnessed Mr Lynam masturbating at the back of 7 Wearview while he was working at the top of the cliff.

He said he had made a complaint to child and family agency Tusla and used the camera to catch Mr Lynam in the act.

Kelly said Mr Lynam was “habitually” naked and was “masturbating repeatedly”.

“My purpose in using those cameras was to capture him doing what we all knew he was doing so I could advance my case,” Kelly said.

He said his grandchildren would be up on top of the cliff and he didn’t want them to witness it.

Kelly also claimed that the 16 cameras were primarily used as a security mechanism and to monitor the boundaries of his land – currently the subject of an ongoing civil dispute.

In their evidence, the victims said they had been “stalked”.

Mr Mooney said: “I have a teenage daughter and a son with a camera pointed at their bedrooms. It terrifies me to think that’s going on.”

He added that he could not allow his daughter to open the blinds at the back of the house for two years, for fears they were being watched.

He said he was alerted to the cameras after Mr Lynam showed images of them to him.

Defence barrister Kitty Perle described the dispute between the neighbours over land as “hotly contested and entrenched warfare”.

Judge David McHugh found the defendant guilty on four counts of harassment. Kelly was remanded on bail until September 27, when victim impact statements will be read out.

 
Irish Independent

Spy camera fury: Staff walk out after discovering hidden lenses in Glasgow shop

STAFF at a city center health food store have gone on strike after discovering secret cameras in rooms where staff changed, just four weeks after opening.

Exclusive by Niall Christie

Workers at Harvest Stores, some under 18, were horrified and alerted police after findings the lenses hidden in a network modem and air detector.

The Union Street store, which has been closed since Monday’s walk out, houses nearly 70 cameras but, as the room is not a designated changing area, legal lines have not been crossed by managing director Amin Din.

The row emerged amid claims that Mr Din owes four staff thousands in unpaid wages.

Store manager Karen Nicholson, who led the walk out, said: “We shut the shop as soon as we found the cameras and got the police in.

“That is where staff got changed and nobody knew about these until Monday. We uncovered the cameras in the office on Sunday, where staff also get dressed, and then checked the staff room as we knew the number of cameras and microphones in the shop already.

“We might have suspected this but it was still a massive shock. He monitors the cameras from home.

“Police said that while it was morally questionable, legally he was in the clear.

“I am very upset. The staff are predominantly young women, some of them are just young girls under 18. Now they are worried about what has happened to the footage.”

She added that officers were “amazed” at the number of cameras in the shop.

Staff have also been left in the lurch as some are owed hundreds in unpaid wages from June. In total, four staff are yet to get just under £2,000 from the shop’s owner.

They now face an anxious wait to see whether they will be paid this week.

Despite being paid in full, supervisor Robert Taylor also walked out.

With three young children to support, he may have to sell belongings to afford food.

He said: “I’m putting together a list of things that I can afford to sell to pay rent.

“We’re doing this so new staff don’t have to deal with the secrets and lies like us.

“I will be looking for other work but I’m worried I won’t get my next pay this week.”

After walking out, staff approached the Baker’s Union and Better than Zero who are now supporting them through an industrial action.

A spokesperson for Better than Zero said: “It takes real courage to do what the workers at Harvest Stores are doing – standing together as union members, against a boss who has run his business with a toxic mix of control and intimidation.”

“Karen, Robert and their co-workers will go all the way to get the pay they’re due. But this is about more than settling a wage dispute – by speaking out and joining the BFAWU union en masse, they are lighting a beacon for everyone in Glasgow whose pay and conditions are set at the mercy of the boss.

 
“Precarious work is becoming the norm in Glasgow, and Better than Zero is ready to support all workers who are prepared to join unions and take on those who profit from low pay and insecurity.”

Police also confirmed that they had attended the store on Monday morning over a problem with security cameras.

They added: “Police provided assistance and advice was given to staff on the matter. No crime was identified.”

When asked to comment, Mr Din said that the matter was a “stupid oversight” on his part.

He said: “I hold my hands up and admit that I should have put signs up sooner.

“Basically the staff entered and found cameras in the staff kitchen area and office.

“It was not a changing area. The police confirmed that no law has been broken. They were installed by a reputable company. I can monitor these from home but they have not been working.

“They were purely for security purposes so that if there were any issues I could look back. I just never got around to putting them up. There is a separate area for changing for staff in the toilet facility, with a separate sink. This was made clear. There are cleaning products everywhere.

“The pay issue was resolved by the accountant and staff would have been paid in full on Monday. As the company is new, it hadn’t worked out.

“Staff were not paid in full or on time. Every single staff member was asked before hand. We were late getting details to the accountant so there was a delay.

“It was an oversight and they were there for security only.”