Increasing demand for covert communication equipment

Internet hobbyists here say that there seems to be an increasing online demand for covert communication equipment, ubiquitous in latest spy movies.

T. Pradeep Kumar, an information technology professional and certified ethical hacker, says the demand is perhaps best reflected in the increasing number of online advertisements promoting the sale of mobile phone-based hidden communication equipment as a “sure fire success solution” for students attending examinations.

He says he recently purchased such a device online from a New Delhi-based firm for Rs.1,800. It has two micro bluetooth earpieces, which fit deep in the ear and are not easily detectable.

The electro magnetic devices come with a transmitter and microphone, which can be looped around the neck. Pradeep says that he linked the “spy device” with his bluetooth enabled mobile phone, which he had entrusted to a friend who was standing “about 20 m away.” His friend made a call to another person, and he could talk to the third person. “No one else in the room could hear our communication. Few realised even that I was talking to somebody else,” he says.

No incidents reported

The Kerala Public Services Commission (PSC) annually conducts scores of written tests, most of them objective type, to various posts in the State service. Deputy Superintendent of Police, PSC-Vigilance Wing, R. Rajkumar says that the PSC invigilators have not so far reported the use of such devices to cheat in public examinations.

S. Vinay Kumaran Nair, who heads the High Tech inquiry cell of the State police, says that his unit has till June 30 this year has received 314 complaints of abuse of mobile phones for crime ranging from harassment of women to intrusion of privacy and cheating.

No complaint regarding the use of such spy devices for illegal purposes have come to the unit. He says the easy online availability of such devices might open the door for lot of mischief.

Another police investigator says no vehicles or outsiders should be allowed within 100 m of public examination venues to deny “cheaters” the range to deploy such tools. He says police are familiar with such devices, which are used in undercover operations.

(copy has been corrected for a factual error)