Beware the spycam

They are recording you, and there is nothing much you can do about it

20 Apr 2020 / 10:36 H.

FROM that innocent-looking toy figure to the power socket in your home, almost any innocuous object can hide a spy cam. A device ready to record everything that you do for nefarious purposes.

In South Korea, the ever-increasing use of spycams in the world of digital sex crimes has led to suicides. There, the phenomenon is known as molka, the Korean word for the secret camera.

According to the statistics shared on a BBC documentary, 6,400 cases of the threatening phenomenon were reported in 2017, compared to 2,400 in 2012. The fact that we have not heard of significant cases in the local media does not mean that it is not happening right now.

A spy camera is defined as a device that is capable of capturing video (and sometimes audio) of a location without the subjects’ knowledge. They are usually disguised as ordinary objects in the environment of the business or home. Made to look common, they are easily overlooked.

The most basic spy cameras are made up of only four components: the camera, the processor, storage, and a power source. On a wireless spy camera, the power source can be replaced with a battery and the storage can be a transmitter that can use either wifi, cellular, or other wireless communication. On top of that, these devices can be made so small they are nearly undetectable. Just look at the selfie cameras on your smartphone.

The ubiquity of these devices means that they are easily acquired, and the technology is so developed that anyone could install one and record your private moments without you knowing it. Strangers and people you know alike could do it.

Just search for the term spy camera on your favourite online shopping platform, and you will be amazed at the variety of ready to use spy cameras available. They come in many forms from phone chargers to clocks to even a lightbulb. And those are just the ones that are being sold openly.

An anti spy hidden camera detector.
An anti spy hidden camera detector.

So what can you do when, let’s say, you walk into that vacation rental, to make sure you are not spied on?

Well, you can take advantage of the components that make up a spy camera.

First, the lenses are shiny. Shinier than most things. Using a flashlight, or the one that is built-in on your smartphone, point it at devices and look for small circular glints. It might give away the location of a camera. There are, of course, apps for that as well.

Second, wireless communications are detectable. Check the wifi network. There are apps and devices for this too.

If you see a bunch of devices on a network, more than the number of devices you can identify, which could be spy cameras. For a more extreme measure, unplug the router if you don’t need it.

Third, devices that are meant to spy in the long term need to be plugged in. Unplug appliances that you are not using. Radio clocks and phone chargers are perfect hiding places for these plug-in spy cameras.

Finally, spy cameras are hidden but not invisible. Look out for devices or items that are out of place. Pinholes in odd places could hide a camera too. Check out drawers and cabinets as well, as some spy cameras may use local storage instead.

Now that you know the dangers of the spy camera, stay vigilant and stay sharp so you can avoid being a voyeur statistic.

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