Private Investigations and Personal Security/21st Century Privacy


Hi Jeffrey,

I read an article about researchers sniffing keystrokes out of thin air based on electromagnetic emissions.

"It is possible to capture the electromagnetic emissions of a wired keyboard from up to 20 metres (66 ft) away, without being physically wired to it. In 2009, Swiss researches tested 11 different USB, PS/2 and laptop keyboards in a semi-anechoic chamber and found them all vulnerable, primarily because of the prohibitive cost of adding shielding during manufacture. The researchers used a wide-band receiver to tune into the specific frequency of the emissions radiated from the keyboards."

"Another team has found a way to get the same kind of information out of a power socket. Using similar techniques, Inverse Path researchers Andrea Barisani and Daniele Bianco say they get accurate results, picking out keyboard signals from keyboard ground cables."

This is quite scary as you don't need to be online. I have 3 questions based on this and some other post you answered about privacy.

1 - How does the average user protect themselves from this? Is this technology available to hackers already? What about safety in apartments?

2 - Can a TSCM expert prove or detect if your adjacent, upstairs, downstairs neighbors uses electronic stethoscopes, the kind that is placed against a surface not into the surface? Would they be able to prove that, do their devices detect that?

3 - If I use headphones/ear buds to watch movies, listen to music, would neighbors in question 2 still be able to listen to what I'm watching/listening to?

Thanks for your time.


From my experience and understanding of the issues I would state and recommend:

1.  The technology is available but not widely known or used at this time except by only the most dedicated and/or sophisticated hacker.  However you should protect yourself by simply unplugging and the powering down of your equipment.  I would suggest turning off your wireless router and disconnecting your main Ethernet CAT-5 cable at a minimum.  

2. Possibly.  If the devices are passive but powered up maintaining a current it is possible those devices could be detected.  There are no guarantees of course as the privacy rights must be adhered to by the TSCM professional.  In short, any invasive surveillance counter measures cannot legally extend into their apartment(s), etc.          

3. No.

If you want true privacy just follow the rules of keeping your verbal conversations low.  There are ways of arranging your furniture and living space to control sound and muffle it.  Look it up on search engines. Power down your equipment when you are not around.  For your most private conversations hold them in the inner most area of your apartment without shared walls if it exists.  Encrypt everything from your wireless router to your wireless telephone.  If using your cellphone de-power that by removing the battery so eavesdropping cannot occur through that device.  


Jeffrey Hauck, JD, CPO, CII, LPD
Licensed Private Detective  

Private Investigations and Personal Security

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Jeffrey Hauck


I would welcome the opportunity to answer questions about the business operations, duties, and ethics of the modern professional private detective/private investigator.


Criminologist. Professor of Criminal Justice. Licensed Private Detective with expansive clientele base encompassing hundreds of cases. Donates resources and time to the Children's Rescue Network in Orlando, FL.

Associate of Science; Bachelor of Arts; Master of Science, Doctor of Jurisprudence Degree.

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