Bugsweep by Steadman's team

In February 2006 I asked the reputable firm Lorraine Electronics to recommend a team for a TSCM sweep of my house in Clapham South. They recommended Nick Steadman, who forwarded details of his team as follows;

Background details for Electronic Countermeasures and Security Sweeps

Steadman confirmed by email that his two man team use an NLJD to discover bugs even when they have switched off or are otherwise not operating. He said there would be a charge of 875 plus an additional 75 for a written report. He and another team member turned up on 26 April 2006, and conducted a thorough sweep which lasted some four hours. They conducted a number of sweeps and found nothing. Steadman said he used to work for HM Government conducting sweeps of this sort, mostly at overseas locations; he refused to say which agency he worked for, that they're not supposed to talk about it.

They swept with broadband detector, then with Audiotel spectrum analyzer; on the analyzer he compared scans from different parts of the house, found a lot of harmonics of FM broadcast stations but found nothing suspicious. He said that if the bugs could be switched off remotely, then they would only be detectable by physical search/NLJD; they did an NLJD sweep using Audiotel broom of the entire house and found nothing in walls or furniture. Steadman said he was trained at Audiotel's in house facility; they found nothing on the mains lines or phone lines, or in the phone sockets. He said all he and his associates do is TSCM, they are not subsidiary to some other job. He checked the inside of the TV set and found no extraneous circuitry, or transmissions.

Steadman's report is as follows.





Electronic Countermeasures Sweep


Initial Report












45 Englewood Road










Wednesday 26 April 2006






































At the request of Mr T Szocik an electronic countermeasures sweep was carried out at 45 Englewood Road, Clapham, LONDON, SW12 on Wednesday 26 April 2006.


Whilst information can be stolen by other means, information-gathering through the use of electronic eavesdropping represents a real and significant threat. The purpose of this sweep was to satisfy Mr Szocik that the techniques used would significantly reduce the threat from eavesdropping devices, to assess vulnerability to this and other forms of attack, and to make recommendations where appropriate to protect him from risks of this nature.



Scope of the Report


Although this Report is concerned with electronic eavesdropping, observations and recommendations are made with regard to general security matters, where applicable.





General Site Considerations


There are suitable hiding places in all areas for bugging devices, microphone cables and tape recorders. Many areas could allow concealment of radio transmitters with large battery packs for extended operation. There is, in all areas, sufficient furniture to permit quick concealment of a small, disposable radio transmitter. Some areas can be overlooked using high power optics.


The main threats are perceived to be from :


a.           Radio transmitters / baby alarms installed within rooms for relaying room conversation.

b.           Tape recorders concealed within rooms for recording room conversation.

c.           Use of cables to carry room conversation, whether by audio frequencies (wired microphone), or by means of a high frequency carrier, to a Listening Post either within the premises or in nearby buildings.

d.           Telephone tapping equipment placed on the line.

e.           Telephone tapping equipment placed between the line and the analogue extension.

f.            Audio modifications made to digital handsets.

g.           Interception of video information on computers / VDU screens.



Specific Considerations


45 Englewood Road is a three-storey Victorian terraced house, linked to its neighbours on both sides. There are voids in the loft and cellar areas where microphones could be easily inserted.


There is no alarm system or CCTV cameras protecting the premises.





The following areas were checked :



Room No*




Front Room

Full check


Dining Room

Full Check


Garden Room

Full Check


Rear Office

Full Check


Middle Bedroom

Full check


Front Bedroom

Full check


Attic Bedroom

Full check



*Room numbers allocated by Team.


Each area was subject to :


   Upper band radio frequency scan (10 MHz - 5 GHz)

   Low band radio frequency scan (12 KHz - 10 MHz)

   Low frequency mains carrier scan (25 KHz - 500 KHz)


Computer-aided scans were made, analysed and electronically examined for any anomalies, and then stored for future reference and comparison. No hostile transmissions were detected during the inspection.


Telephone sockets were opened and inspected carefully for any signs of modification.


The downstairs analogue telephone was checked for :


   Upper band radio frequency devices

   Lower band radio frequency devices

   Parallel taps

   Infinity taps

   Audio modifications


The instrument was tested with both the conversation monitor and Delta V radio frequency detector.


A Non-Linear Junction Detector (Broom) was used to check for concealed electronics, backed up by a thorough physical search.


In addition the front and rear gardens, loft spaces and cellar were all visually inspected.


The TV set in the front room was opened and the circuit board was checked for any extra components.



No radio bugs, hard-wired devices, audio modifications, telephone taps or illicit recording equipment were found during the counter-measures sweep.





One disadvantage of living in an old terraced property is the direct party wall link to neighbours. Furthermore chimney-breasts, cellar and loft spaces all have voids, which allow access to each other’s properties. The saving grace with these locations is that sensitive conversations are rarely held in them.


There is always a risk that a neighbour might use a device which detects conversations through walls. Unfortunately there is no defence against this form of attack other than to ensure that any sensitive conversations are held away from the house.


There may be some merit in installing an alarm system to deter potential attackers from entering the property. The addition of a CCTV camera at the front and rear of the house would complement this.


Contractors carrying out work on the premises should always be escorted.


The ADSL phone line is difficult to intercept due to the combination of speech and data on the same line. We would suggest, however, that a DECT instrument replaces the old analogue telephone in the front room.


Any computers in the house should have short screen saver delay times to prevent any sensitive information being displayed for long periods.


The wi-fi network unit should have access codes changed on a regular basis.

Needless to say, I was disappointed that Steadman's team had found nothing, but it merely shows that MI5 must be using some advanced technology which a competent TSCM operative could not find, even with an NLJD.