On Security

In the Era of Hacking, Bugs Remain a Crucial Espionage Weapon

Scott Stewart
VP of Tactical Analysis, Stratfor
Apr 2, 2019 | 11:00 GMT
A shop in South Korea displays cigarette cases equipped with hidden cameras, among a wide selection of other spy cam devices.

Advances in technology have resulted in very small bugs and covert recorders that are both cheap and easy to obtain. Spy devices can now be installed into a number of common office items -- including electrical outlets, power strips, lamps and smoke detectors.

(JUNG YEON-JE/AFP/Getty Images)

The threat of cyberattacks has garnered a lot of publicity in recent years -- and rightfully so, as such hacks provide hostile actors with a powerful and convenient intelligence tool. Cyberattacks can be conducted from the relative safety of an offshore platform without having to place valuable assets in jeopardy of being discovered and arrested, and provide actors with some degree of plausibility as well. However, if a capable actor -- such as an intelligence service, advanced criminal group or a well-funded corporate competitive operation -- really wants to get their hands on a specific piece of information, there is a host of other espionage tools at their disposal that they can (and still do) use, including cheap and accessible recorders and transmitters (or bugs). ...

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