Spy vs. spy is big business

PETALING JAYA: Security is a big issue nowadays because spy technology is so slick, and concerns over this is feeding the demand for security devices among businesses and organisations.

One vendor, Leading Distribution (M) Sdn Bhd, said the sales of its security devices has increased by 300% since the company was established in 1994.

Especially saleable is its anti-bugging and mobile spying devices, the company said. It also distributes covert CCTV (closed-circuit TV) and spying gadgets, as well as offers counter-surveillance services.

According to manager Ben Lim, such devices also make it easier to gather evidence, especially when trying to solve a criminal case.

"Individuals don't want to be victimised by criminals and these devices help protect them, while businesses and other organisations can use the gadgets for better crime-prevention, as well as to gather evidence in the event of an incident," he told In.Tech.

Leading's customers are typically government enforcement agencies, private investigators as well as resellers and the public.

Among its pin-hole cameras, cellphone interceptors, compact camera-detectors, as well as GPS data loggers and other vehicle trackers, there is the spyphone.

This is a specially designed circuit board that can be hidden in any cellphone, and it intercepts incoming and outgoing calls, SMSes and e-mail messages. It retails at RM4,550.

Also, the device can show who is calling the bugged phone and can monitor the owner's movements. The data is sent to the spy via e-mail.

"It was successfully used by a father who suspected his son of being involved in a football-betting syndicate," Lim said. Other parents are also interested in the device, which can be used to show where their teenagers are or have been to.

Peace of mind

Privacy advocates, however, will argue that such devices encroach on people's privacy. Lim does not deny this grey area but encourages his customers to not abuse the use of spying devices.

"It's like getting a knife," he said. "It's legal to use it for preparing food but it is illegal to kill someone with it. But the authorities don't stop people from selling or buying knives, right?" he said.

Also, he said, there are devices that can counter spy gadgets.

Costing between RM88 and RM2,950, such devices help consumers check for bugs and hidden cameras, and can send an alert by vibrating or beeping when it senses such devices in the home, office or elsewhere.

For example, a CEO may want to ensure boardroom discussions are secret. Or, women may want to scan for hidden cameras in a changing room before undressing. "These devices help organisations and individuals better protect their privacy," said Lim.

He said the company also offers surveillance countermeasures services, such as for anyone wanting to debug a room or office. This entails sweeping the room for spy devices using a special tool that looks like a metal detector.

"After sweeping a room, we provide the customer with a comprehensive report and recommend several bugging-detection devices," he said. Charges start from RM6,500 and depend on room size.

Then, there are GPS (global positioning system) tracking devices that enable businesses to track their vehicles, such as delivery trucks, taxis, and patrol vehicles.

One of these is a GPS data logger that functions like the "black box" found on airplanes, for recording a vehicle's speed and stops along its route. "This way, companies can know the reason for late delivery of a consignment, for example," Lim explained.

For more information on Leading Distribution's products and services, go to www.leading.com.my.

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