24 Digital Spy Tools To Capture, Protect, And Secure Data

To catch a data thief, you'll need discreet audio and video recorders, tiny cameras, keystroke loggers, and a trove of other 007-worthy digital security, monitoring, and surveillance devices.

Dark Reading Staff, Dark Reading

April 17, 2008

21 Min Read

Back in the '60s, when the spy craze first hit, would-be snoops had to satisfy their desire for spy gear with products like 007 cologne and aftershave, when what they really wanted was the bug Bond hid beneath the bumper of a quarry's car, or the greenscreen mapping device mounted in the dash of his Aston Martin.

This rotating lens from Opteka attaches to a digital camera and allows photos to be taken from right or left angles.

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We've come a long way, spy babies!

Today there's a mini-industry in spy and spy-like surveillance, monitoring, tracking, and disguising equipment and gear, and any number of retailers specializing in the stuff.

Clearly, a lot of the gear is intended for law enforcement and security personnel. Not for nothing do many of the products and Web pages cited here include warnings about privacy rights and legal restrictions on their use. Pay attention! Some of this gear can get you in a lot of trouble if used improperly or illegally.

But many have serious consumer and business uses, from security monitoring to data-theft prevention, to tracking kids' driving or Web surfing habits.

Sadly, some of these uses are headline-making: Nanny-cams, for instance, have exposed more than one case of abuse.

But before we get too serious, some of these tools are just plain cool, and some just plain silly. None of them -- we can all but guarantee -- will turn anyone into the next James Bond.

And, while we're not advocating that you use any of these tools to watch over your employees (or business rivals, or speeding children or straying spouses) and certainly not to peek into your competition's secret files, we recommend that you be very familiar, and careful with the laws and regulations regarding their use.

Sound Amplifiers And Audio Devices

1. Secret Service Invisible 2-Way Headset

Be your team's invisible ears on the world with the Secret Service Invisible 2-Way Headset.

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Weight: Approximately 1 gram

Frequencies: 120-8500 Hz

Output power: 105 db

Price: $649.95

Vendor: Brickhouse Security

You've got to be impressed with a product described as the smallest transmitting/receiving device possible "without the need to take an impression of the ear canal." The micro-receiver hides in your ear and wirelessly connects with a transmitter coil necklace under your clothes. Let your staff listen in on "closed" meetings -- or have them feed you the data you need to get the upper hand.

2. SuperEar SE 4000x

Listen in on nature, neighbors, and ne'er-do-wells with the SuperEar SE 4000x pocket-sized sound amplifier.

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Weight: 3 oz.

Headphones: Included

Range: 100 yards

Power: 1 AAA battery

Price: $39.95

Vendor: SpyTechs

Wonder what they're whispering there in the far corner of the parking deck? Tune them in with this sound amplifier that promises 50 decibel gain, offers a 180-degree swiveling mike, and a variety of options for attaching it to clothes or even binoculars (for those who want -- or need -- to listen while they look.) 3. Watch With Digital Recorder

This watch has a concealed digital recorder that can capture up to 520 minutes of chatter.

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Memory: 256 MB flash memory

Recording time: 520 minutes

Power: Internal rechargeable battery (separate battery for watch)

Connector: USB for playback/recharge

Price: $189.99

Vendor: SpyTechs

The wrong word captured at the right time can catch your suspect, too -- and this digital watch recorder puts that time on your wrist. With 256 MB of flash memory for up to 9 hours' recording time, in case it takes you a while to draw out their confession. The watch also includes an MP3 player -- and a separate battery insures that it keeps accurate time, too.

4. Mobile Voice Changer

Microphone: 62db

Power: 3V CR1616 Battery (included)

Battery Life: 30 hours in voice-change mode

Price: $40.80

Vendor: Brickhouse Security

Put your mouth where your monitoring is -- but do it with one of four voice-changes this unit offers. Speak your piece -- and the person you're calling will hear a child's voice, a robot, an animated voice,or a deep male voice. Perfect for when you want to tip them off that you're onto them -- but not who you are.

Digital Cameras, Imaging Devices, And Visual Aids

5. Bushnell Digital Imaging Binoculars

Keep your distance while keeping your target under observation with Bushnell's Digital Imaging Binoculars.

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Magnification: 8x binocular/8x camera

Internal Memory: 16 MB

Playback/Review: 1.5-inch LCD screen

Port: USB

Price: $279.95

Vendor: Bushnell

Distance is no obstacle to catching the culprit's image via the 3.2-megapixel camera built into this pair of binoculars. Suspect on the run? The binoculars also can grab AVI video. And what you see is what you get -- the camera offers the same 8X magnification as the binoculars.

6. Opteka Voyeur Right Angle Spy Lens

Dimensions: 3.5 inches

Price: $49.95

Vendor: Opteka

Quarry lurking at your periphery and you don't want to give yourself away? No problem -- grab a sharp picture anyway by attaching this right-angle lens to your digital camera. Aim the camera at something innocently ahead of you while the lens captures the guilty to your left or right.

7. Mini Color Pinhole Camera With Audio

Put this Mini Color Pinhole Camera behind a pinhole opening and you have your surveillance opening to catch pinheads in the act.

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Dimensions: 35x35 mm

Lens: 3.7 mm cone lens

Video Output: 1 Vp-p / 75 Ohms

Audio Output: 2 Vp-p / 50 Ohms

Power Supply: DC12V10%

Price: $69.00 (cables and connectors extra)

Vendor: Security Depot

Tuck this camera in a secret spot and find out what your target is doing -- and saying, via built-in audio output. Small enough for unobtrusive mounting but powerful enough to let you mount an image-and-sound-based case through a pinhole. Great for parents whose kids have nannies. 8. Night Vision Goggles

ATN Viper goggles amplify weak ambient light sources.

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Weight: 9 oz.

Dimensions: 5"x2"x1"

Magnification: 1x (4x, 8x optional)

Power: 3v lithium battery

Price: $299

Vendor: American Technologies Network Corp.

The best -- or worst! -- spy stuff happens at night, under cover of darkness, but the right spy-by-night goggles insure that you won't miss a bit of it. Amplifying ambient light from stars, moon, or infrared sources, the lightweight unit doesn't restrict your movement as you track your target's, and leaves your hands free to deal with your target when it becomes your quarry.

9. Smoke Detector Wireless Camera

Range: 300-500 feet, depending on conditions

Resolution: 180 lines

Power: 1 9v battery (transmitter) and 1 9v battery (receiver); or AC for either.

Price: $169.95 (sound) / $159.95 (no sound)

Vendor: SecretSecurityCamera.com

Smoke out bad guys with the wireless camera hidden inside this realistic-looking -- but nonfunctional -- smoke detector. Attach the camera's receiver to a monitor or recorder and let the spying begin. Just be sure that you have functional smoke detectors in place, too!

10. Telescope With Video Capture

Catch 'em in your scope and you can catch 'em in JPEG with this telescope's built-in 3.1-megapixel camera.

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Telescope: 15x-45x

Light Capture: 60mm

Power: 4 AA batteries (not included)

Display: 2.5-inch LCD

Price: $299.97 (sale price; regularly $499.95)

Vendor: Spy Museum Store

Grab a JPEG of your quarry with this 15x-45x telescope's built-in 3.1-megapixel camera. A remote trigger keeps the scope-cam stable, no mater how much your hands are shaking. Includes a Secure Digital (SD) card slot.

11. Under Door Remote Viewing Kit

Height: 0.19"

Working length: 3.4" o 7"

Field of View: 55°

Line of Sight: 15°

Price: Prices start at $4,700.

Vendor: Instrument Technology Inc.

What goes on behind closed doors? Plenty -- and with this sneaky peeker, you won't need X-ray vision to find out. Its 55-degree field of vision lets you in on the action, which you can watch through an optional eyepiece or capture the image via an optional video adapter. And if its dark inside, add an infrared emitter to help you see what they don't want you to.

12. Waterproof Fiberscope

Length: 18" cable -- longer versions available; check site for prices)

Optics: High-Resolution 40° FOV Lens

Illumination: 2.5V Halogen Bulb with Pressure-Activated Push-Button Activation

Power: 2 AA Batteries (not included)

Price: $249

Vendor: The Spy Store

Flexible enough to wend its way through plumbing, protected by a waterproof lens and cable, the fiberscope fits into openings as small as 5.8mm (1/4-inch) and gives you a sharp view of what's hidden behind walls -- or lurking underwater. (Note: Scope-cables longer than 36 inches are thicker and require larger openings.)

Keyboard Loggers

13. KeyGhost Keystroke Logger

The KeyGhost Keystroke Logger slips between the keyboard cable and the PC -- and grabs every keystroke.

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Keystroke Storage Capacity: 512 KB, 1MB, and 2 MB

Encryption: 128-bit

Optional: High-speed download

Requirement: Desktop IBM PC / PS/2 keyboard

Price: $149 -- $249

Vendor: KeyGhost

Capture and every keystroke -- and every secret, illicit or illegal message the keystrokes form -- with this bit of hardware that slips in-between the keyboard cable and the PC. Storing up to 2 million keystrokes, depending on the model, the logger lets you peruse everything from time/date-stampede-mails to chatroom conversations, and print out the results when you're ready to present your evidence.

14. KeyLlama 2 GB USB Keylogger

Memory: 2 GB flash disk

Price: $238.00

Vendor: KeyLlama

Faster keyboards and Macs won't keep your suspect's typing safe from this keylogger, designed to monitor speedy USB keyboards and work with Mac OS 9 and up as well as Windows. The logger's 2 GB of memory can hold millions of pages of text -- including the ones you need to make your case or prove your point. (Note for fashion-conscious surveillants: If you're tracking a Mac user, the manufacturer recommends the white model!)

15. Spector Pro Keylogger Software

SpectorSoft software lets you set up a key word list to notify you when tripwords are typed.

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Operating System: Windows

Price: $149.95

Vendor: SpectorSoft

Tracking keys typed on a wireless keyboard? This software-based logger lurks in the PC and grabs keystrokes -- and screen images -- that you can use to catch a crook or curb undesirable computer use. Set up your own warning-word list and get an instant notification anytime your suspect -- or child -- types over the line.

Document Retention And Destruction

16. DocuPen RC800 Professional

Dimensions: 8.9" X 0.5" X 0.5" -226mm x 13mm x 13mm

Weight: 2 oz. (~57 grams)

Scan Width: 8" (205 mm)

Resolution: 100-400 dpi

Memory: 8 MB Flash Memory

Upgrades: Optional MicroSD memory cards to 128 MB, 256 MB, 512 MB, 1 GB, 2 GB

Power: Lithium Ion Batteries, Rechargeable Battery through USB cable

Price: $309.99

Vendor: Planon

You've got just a few seconds alone with the secret docs -- and that's all you'll need with DocuPen's ability to capture a full page in as little as 4 seconds (full color takes longer.) MicroSD memory expansion lets you expand the number of documents you can scan before you scoot.

17. USB Paper Shredder

Capacity: 4.5-inch feed

Power: USB, or four AA batteries (not included)

Price: Varies with retailer, generally under $10.00

Vendor: Geeks.com

In case you're fresh out of that cool flash-paper that reduces your documents to ash in seconds, tuck this tiny shredder in your bag and slice your pages to shreds powered by a USB connection (or batteries or AC adapter.) Then, to be safe, burn the shreds.

Tracking Devices

18. Bushnell Scout 1000 Laser Range Finder

Range: 5 to 1,000 yards

Magnification: 3x24

Weight: 6.6 oz.

Power: 3v battery

Price: N/A

Vendor: Bushnell

You've got 'em in your sights -- but just how far away are they? This laser range finder will tell you, instantly, even if they're on the move. An LCD display constantly updates the distance as you track your suspect. The range finder also calculates bullet or arrow drop over distance -- just in case your surveillance mission turns into something deadlier.

19. SkyTRX-Tracker

Stash the SkyTRX-Tracker GPS tracking device in any vehicle and its motion detector will record where the vehicle went, how long it lingered, and how fast it was driven.

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Dimensions: 3.80 x 1.46 x 1.34 inches

Storage: 100 hours of driving history

Power: 2 AAA batteries; USB connection for download

Price: $329.99

Vendor: Skytrx

Where's your car headed -- and how fast is it headed there -- when someone else is at the wheel? This tool lets you find out -- dump the data it records into your PC and you'll get a second-by-second GPS-accurate map of where it went, how long it took to get there, and how long the vehicle stayed at each location.

Bugs And Bug Detectors

20. Cell Phone Spy Data Extractor

Dimensions: 2 3/4" x 1 1/4" x 1/8"

Hardware: USB SIM Card Spy Recovery Pro Reader

Software: SIM Card Spy Recovery Pro software CD

Price: $149.95 Vendor: Brickhouse Security

Detect and recover "deleted" text messages and address book entries from cell phone SIM cards, with this reader, marketed as your chance to "spy on your wife, husband, teens, or an employer" -- or as a tool for backing up your SIM-stored data.

Both wireless and wired video cameras radiate at frequencies detectable by this hidden camera detector.

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21. Hidden Camera Detector

Dimensions: 4.25"x2.25"x1.25"

Weight: 10 oz.

Power: 2 9v batteries

Price: $299.55

Vendor: SurveillanceSpyCameras.com

Maybe you're the one being spied on. Countersurveillance will tell. This device detects the frequencies of hidden video cameras -- whether wireless or wired. Scan any room for secret cameras -- the detector has a range of two feet -- before putting any of your secrets on the table. 22. Mini Bug Detector

Both LED and audio tones let you identify and pinpoint the location of surveillance devices hidden by someone other than you.

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Weight: 10.5 oz.

Dimensions: 1/2" x 3" x 7/8"

Power: One 9-Volt battery (not included)

Price: $89.99

Vendor: ThinkGeek All the bugging devices you can use against them can be used against you. Find out if they are with the Mini Bug Detector that flushes out listening devices operating in the 50-MHz to 3-GHz range. If you're afraid you're being bugged you won't want to leave home without this detector -- and you probably should use it on your home as well.

23. Wi-Spy 2.4x Spectrum Analyzer

The Wi-Spy analyzer scans for unseen Bluetooth devices.

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Bandwidth: 2400 to 2495 MHz

Frequency Resolution: 328 KHz

Sweep Time: 165 millisecond

Price: $399

Vendor: MetaGeek

Need to know what's out there on the wireless spectrum, what's interfering with your share of it -- or what signals might be being sent from inside your facility? The Wi-Spy analyzer will scan your area and identify everything from microwaves and phones to that Bluetooth device you didn't know was hidden inside your partner's jacket.

When It's Time For Action

24. Tactical Pneumatic Launch System

Weight: 19.0 lbs.

Length: 44.0 in.

PSI: Up to 350 psi

Shot Height: Up to 120 vertical feet

Power Source: Compressed Air

Price: N/A

Vendor: Digital Force Tech

When hidden cameras and bugs just aren't enough to get at the secrets behind those walls, fire off a grappling hook and rope, then put yourself as well as your surveillance tools in the midst of the action.

About the Author(s)

Dark Reading Staff

Dark Reading

Dark Reading is a leading cybersecurity media site.

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