In an era where people are no longer sure of their privacy, hotels are being bugged and offices taped, here are some steps to take in order to know when you are being secretly watched by a hidden camera.
Scan your surroundings
Paranoid or not, it’s always important to familiarise oneself with the place one is staying in. It is advised that a guest in a hotel looks around carefully and see if they can spot anything out of the ordinary. Experts say hidden cameras are usually placed below eye level to make them less noticeable to guests.
It is also said that there have been cases where spy cameras were disguised as clothing hooks which were below the usual height. Some of the common places to find hidden cameras are wall decors, electrical outlets, lamps, tissue boxes, cushions, mirrors, smoke detectors. This method is perhaps the easiest and cheapest as it involves physical inspection of the room for any irregularities.
Mike O’Rourke, co-founder and Chief Executive Officer of the Washington-based global security consultancy, Advanced Operational Concepts, advised that guests should be looking for any small holes around the room, including in the wall or in objects placed in the room.
“Light fixtures, smoke detectors, clock radios, coffee pots, and electric sockets have all been used to hide cameras,” he said. “I’ve seen cameras in the air conditioner vents in hotel rooms.”
Use a flashlight
According to a CNN report, using one’s phone’s flashlight may be one of the easiest ways to detect a hidden camera. All one needs to do is flash the light against anything that looks abnormal including clocks and smoke detectors. First switch off the lights and shine the flashlight around the room. If the light catches unusually reflective lights or surfaces, this could mean a possible hidden camera.
“Assuming the camera has some form of a lens, you use a device that has a very bright light source and a viewfinder that allows you to scan for the reflections from the lens,” a professor from the Center for Cyber Security at the United Kingdom’s Surrey University, Alan Woodward, told CNN.
Look for blinking light
The best way to detect hidden cameras would be by switching the lights off. It is reported that most cameras have blinking LED lights that are easier to spot in low light conditions or in darkness. If you check into the room during the day and it all looks bright inside with sun rays, there is no cause to worry. Close the windows, draw the curtains shut and switch off the light to create darkness in the room. The blinking light would come alive if there is any hidden camera in the room.
Make a phone call
Another way of spotting a camera in a hotel room is to make a call while walking around the room. It is said that surveillance cameras could create a static noise or interference when a call is made nearby. When you notice an interruption in a specific spot, stop, and start to inspect carefully.
Download an app to scan for recording device
If you’re really feeling edgy over your privacy, you could take it a step further by downloading an app such as Hidden Spy Camera Detector, Radarbot, Detectify, Glint Finder, Hidden Device Detector, Ghost Camera Finder, to scan for frequencies used by recording equipment.
Woodward said, “If it does transmit RF (radio frequency), then you can again buy a standard bug detector that you sweep the room with to search for hidden sources of radio transmission. There are some products out there that combine the optical and RF detection methods.”
Use smartphone camera
Unlike the human eyes, smartphone cameras typically have the ability to view infrared light sources. Infrared lights are used for various purposes, including in many remote controls. Interestingly, they are also commonly found in security cameras to let them work in the dark.
As a result, it is possible to use your phone to detect a hidden camera via the infrared light it emits. The rear-facing camera on most smartphones usually has an infrared filter fitted but the front-facing camera does not have in most cases and that makes it useful for scanning for hidden cameras.
You can test this by turning the lights off, and putting your phone in selfie mode. Using your phone to spot the infrared light from a hidden camera is similar to searching with the flashlight. In a dark room, enable the front camera on your phone or tablet, and slowly pan the front of the device around each room.
Check the mirrors
One of the worst things that could happen is to be filmed during your intimate moments. Another way out of this embarrassing incident is to check your bathroom mirror for any suspicious objects. Experts say that the best way to check is to put one’s hand on the glass. See if there is a gap between your reflection and your hand. If there is, it means you are fine. If not, then there might be something suspicious around the room.
The odds of having a camera in your hotel room might be low to begin with, but if you actually find one, don’t panic. Instead, report it immediately to the hotel management without tampering with it and wait for an official to inspect it for you. If you find one in your hotel room, ask to change rooms and contact the hotel management as soon as possible.
Sources: Traveloka.com, travelandleisure.com, toomanyadapters.com