10 cutting-edge spy gadgets

As the Erin Andrews peephole tape video showed, it's all too easy to invade someone's privacy, and here are 10 spy gadgets that spies use to capture voice and data.


After learning about new high-tech methods to steal information from PCs being discussed at the Black Hat conference, we went looking for other novel spy techs. Here is a sample, including some commercial products.

circuit design

Here is a freely available circuit design by Remote-Exploit.org for hardware that decrypts keyboard signals from certain models of wireless keyboards. The board must be combined with a radio receiver near the target keyboard to grab the signals, which are then run through the hardware and its accompanying software to reveal what is being typed.

cell phones into bugs

Software piggybacking on SMS messages can turn certain model cell phones into bugs. The software disables ringtones and lights so attackers can call the phone silently and listen into conversations in the vicinity.

Phone File Pro

Don't leave your cell phone unattended. Commercial products like Phone File Pro can pull all the information from a phone SIM card once it's been popped into a PC with a Phone File Pro thumb drive plugged into it.

Computer and Internet Protocol Address Verifier

Court documents revealed FBI software called Computer and Internet Protocol Address Verifier (CIPAV) is deployed via instant messages and captures data about the target machine – IP and MAC addresses, browser and OS versions, registry information. CIPAV is used by the FBI, so details of exactly how it works are sketchy.

5E telephone switches

A feature of 5E telephone switches can search all conversations passing through and zero in on those that contain voiceprints of targeted individuals, according to James Atkinson, an expert in technical surveillance countermeasures. Phone companies are required to provide this access as part of the Communications for Law Enforcement Act.

cable TV connection

Anything going in and out of a cable TV connection can be captured by anyone else on the same subnet with simple sniffing and decryption gear. Experts say businesses should avoid these hubbed networks unless adequate encryption is used.

eavesdropping on cell phone conversations and texting

Many commercial software products claim to enable eavesdropping on cell phone conversations and texting, but they require access to the phone itself. According to participants in Internet forums, they don't always work as advertised.


There are many flavors of keyloggers, but most of the early types required leaving hardware on the targeted device, increasing the chance of detection. Modern day versions, like this commercial USB stick, can be used to leave a software load that does the same trick. The attacker comes back later, plugs the device back in and downloads the collected data.

electrical system

Attackers can grab keyboard signals from the grounds in the electrical system that computers plug into. Signals that the keyboard sends bleed into the ground wire in the keyboard cable because the cable wiring is unshielded.

Analysis software

Lasers bounced off laptops or even off hard objects on tables the laptops sit on can capture the vibrations made by each key. Analysis software figures out what is being typed.

Also see:
5 famous spies and their techie ties
10 "Get Smart" phones you can actually get

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