The Very Real Threat of Long Range Laser Microphones

The Espionage Threat

Many organisations have implemented sophisticated multi-million dollar cyber security architectures yet forget to think like an attacker! If an adversary can harm you or profit from sidestepping your cybersecurity protocols they will. One of the easiest targets for competitive intelligence operatives is unprotected external facing boardroom or office windows.

Most organisations by design, place their main boardroom and executive offices facing their building’s best views. Without protection, every neighbouring building has front row seats to your private discussions.

Instead of a Cyber Hacker sorting through tens of thousands of emails, documents etc., they can record the conversations of the meetings where details are hashed out, directions given, and decisions are made. The vulnerability is real, and the damage that can be done with these recordings can be catastrophic to your business!

The technique of utilising beams of light to record sound was developed by Léon Theremin in the Soviet Union in approximately 1947. It was named the Buran eavesdropping system. This initially worked by aiming a low power infrared beam from a distance to detect the sound vibrations on glass windows. Lavrentiy Beria, head of the KGB, had used the Buran device to spy on the French, British and the United States embassies in Moscow.

In the 71 YEARS since this spying technique was put into practice, the technology has developed at an exponential rate. Alarmingly, the technology has become extremely affordable and can be purchased by anyone with NO oversight. This has resulted in the widespread proliferation of laser microphones by a significant number of those in the competitive intelligence field. Much more economical than employing a team of cyber hackers, this system only requires one operator.

Incredibly effective, it can be used to eavesdrop with minimal chance of exposure from up to 1000 meters away!

A laser microphone is a surveillance device that uses a laser beam to detect sound vibrations on a distant object. The targeted object is typically inside a room where a conversation is taking place and can be anything that can vibrate (for example, a picture on a wall) in response to the pressure waves created by noises present in the room. The object preferably has a smooth surface. The laser beam is directed into the room through a window, reflects off the object, and returns to a receiver (for example a solar panel) that converts the beam to an audio signal.

The beam may also be bounced off the window itself. The minute differences in the distance travelled by the light as it reflects from the vibrating object are detected interferometrically. The interferometer converts the variations to intensity variations, and electronics are used to convert these variations to signals that can be converted back to sound.

The NSI Counter Intelligence Solution

NSI has consulted with several of the worlds leading manufacturers of counter intelligence products to provide a solution certified to block all intrusive laser frequencies between 9kHz to 10GHZ.  If your business has legitimate concerns about industrial espionage, please contact NSI for a confidential consultation.

NSI’s Recommendation

  • To ensure the integrity of your TSCM Investigation, never settle for an incomplete and inferior service.
  • Confirm your TSCM provider has the experience necessary to attain Government Security Clearances.
  • Always confirm your TSCM provider is capable of providing more than a basic bug sweep.
  • Confirm your TSCM provider has experience detecting and defending against Laser Microphones.
  • Demand a full thermal emissions analysis be included.
  • Ask exactly what methods will be utilised during the investigation.
  • Ask how the final report will be presented.
  • Confirm your TSCM provider has an established physical office and is not operating from home.
  • Confirm your TSCM provider has a shielded boardroom for confidential meetings.
  • Confirm your TSCM provider has the resources and capability to provide their services globally.
  • Finally, call NSI Global Counter Intelligence to ensure your Peace Of Mind.

About NSI Global Counter Intelligence

NSI Global Counter Intelligence is an Australian owned Global Geopolitical Risk and Counter Intelligence Advisory Firm. NSI has an interdisciplinary team of employees and partners in strategic locations around the globe.

Our Best in Class Services include:

  • Global Geopolitical Risk Advisory
  • Counterintelligence Services
  • Complete Organisational Security Risk Auditing
  • Technical Surveillance Counter Measures
  • Digital Forensic and Corporate Investigations
  • Cyber Countermeasures
  • Global Immediate Response Teams

Our experts have provided consultation, and have been interviewed numerous times by major media outlets such as:

  • Channel 7 News
  • The Sydney Morning Herald
  • 60 Minutes
  • The Daily Telegraph
  • Today Tonight
  • ABC Radio
  • A Current Affair
  • Sky Business News
  • Xinhua News China

NSI is called upon for its expertise by corporations in the Mining, Oil and Gas industries, Financial Institutions, Insurance companies, Law and Accounting firms, Government agencies and High Net-Worth individuals. Our services are available globally with local offices in Sydney, Canberra, Dubai, and Hong Kong. To book a confidential consultation, feel free to contact our team.


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