Protecting a company’s assets includes protecting its senior executives.

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The Financial Post

By Laura Ramsay, For The Financial Post. June 4, 1990.

Protecting a company’s assets includes protecting its senior executives.

A growing number of corporations are turning to security consultants to help ensure that top people — and the information they’re privy to — aren’t compromised by competitors. terrorists, extortionists or disgruntled employees trying to even a score.

Kevin Bousquet is president of a Scarborough, Ontario-based Protect Your Business, which provides security analysis to corporations, arranges to have corporate offices “swept” to determine whether listening devices have been planted in them, and markets counter electronic surveillance (anti-bugging) products.

“There’s a growing demand,” he says. “It’s still not a huge business, but it increases every year.”

With improved technology and a growing reliance on telephones and facsimile machines as business tools, it’s easy to eavesdrop on important conversations going on in a boardroom or over the phone. Conversations conducted on car phones are notoriously easy to intercept or misdirect. And it’s not hard to intercept messages sent by computer modem or fax.

Robin Ingle, president of Worldwide Security & Protection Corp. in Toronto says “if a company has spent five years and hundreds of thousands of dollars researching and developing a new product, its competitor can spend five minutes and $10,000 and get the same product on the market at the same time.” simply by stealing information by bugging the company’s boardroom.

He says people have been bugging corporate offices in the U.S, for years. But in Canada, information was more likely to have been gleaned from overly talkative employees.

Bousquet says almost all the companies he deals with are publicly traded corporations attempting to make sure that company secrets stay secret.

“It’s extremely competitive out there.”

He says there are three basic ways to eavesdrop on conversations. In addition to the basic telephone bug, budding eavesdroppers can use a radio frequency (RF) device, which can be purchased for about $30 from a mail-order catalogue or easily made by someone with a basic knowledge of electronics. The other device, similar to a baby monitor, uses all electrical current to transmit conversations conducted in another part of the building.

Counter electronic-surveillance equipment is designed to warn speakers when their conversation is being bugged or taped and to prevent third parties from listening. It can also emit high-frequency background noise to prevent tape recorders from picking up a conversation.

Many products are designed to be worn by executives, such as a device that fits in a suit pocket and starts to vibrate if a tape recorder is being used in the room.

“It’s quite popular with people who are afraid of reporters recording their conversations,” Bousquet says.

Telephone scramblers convert a telephone conversation into one of 52,000 codes which are unscrambled at the other end of the line. These are particularly useful for airplane and car phones, Bousquet says.

“It’s probably one of the best products going because it would take a real trained professional to descramble it.”

A similar product is available to scramble sensitive messages sent by fax.

Ingle’s company also arranges physical protection, including bodyguards, and self-defence training for executives who may find themselves in physically threatening situations.

The ideal bodyguard is someone who is well-trained and physically fit, but is not noticed in a crowd. Rambo types with mirrored glasses and bulging biceps aren’t welcome– they don’t fit in at embassy cocktail parties.

Executives are also taught how not to be a victim.

“We try to teach them simply how to strike and run if they get caught in a situation they can’t get out of,” Ingle says.

Other tips include how to safely enter a building and how to walk down a street alone at dusk. Executives traveling to foreign countries — especially ones with turbulent political situations– should be careful who they’re friendly with, avoid mingling with military people and never sit in outdoor cafes, where it’s easy for to strafe the crowd.

Also, executives should double-lock their hotel door and bring an inexpensive gadget that can be used to jam doors. For good measure, a device marketed to parents of young children that sets off an alarm when a doorknob is turned can be an effective deterrent to intruders.

“If you add some difficulty to the situation, the criminal element will usually look for an easier target,” Ingle says.

Al Guy, president of Continental Security Consultants in Toronto, and a former security adviser to senior executives in the oil-and-gas industry, says executives traveling to politically troubled nations should always contact the Canadian embassy in that country to let staff there know when they’ll be arriving and find out what security precautions should be taken.

Common sense is important, too. Don’t announce to everyone in the hotel that you’re president of a large firm. Avoid drawing attention.

“A lot of high-profile executives show up in Fortune 500 listings,” Guy says. “My advice is to avoid that sort of thing. Avoid having your picture taken and avoid being quoted in the media on controversial issues, especially on controversial political issues.”

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We’re not Promoting fear, we’re promoting concern !!!

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Globe & Mail

February 13, 1990

The company honcho talking on the telephone bemoans the fact that the corporation has lost the business deal. “the second time this month that we’ve lost a bid by less than $1000.”

Meanwhile, a headline on the newspaper in front of him reads: “Local Executive Charged in Wiretap.” An electronic sweep of the office nets listening devices in the adding machine, telephone, power outlet, and a cord that stretches along the floor.

This scene, portrayed in a demonstration video, and its message — “You may be bugged” — are part of a growing world-wide industry dealing in the technology of surveillance and counter-surveillance for corporations and individuals.

“We’re not Promoting fear, we’re promoting concern,” said Kevin Bousquet, who shows the video to demonstrate the CPM-700 counter-surveillance sweep device, one of the products and services he sells at his Scarborough, Ontario., company called Protect Your Business.

Security experts say that corporate and personal eavesdropping is a growing problem, with computerization, increased information technology and global competition, the crowding of communication airwaves and the availability of electronic surveillance products from sophisticated miniature devices to simple products available in many department stores.

The growth of such problems is being countered by an arsenal of products and services that detect hidden telephone, room and body bugs and tape recorders. The protection company also provides facsimile machine scramblers, hidden video cameras and microphones and sophisticated night vision surveillance equipment that would rival the gadgets in a James Bond film.

Among the fastest selling items in Mr. Bousquet’s inventory are telephone scramblers, which he calls “the yuppie toy of the 90s.” The devices, which cost $1,000 a pair, are strapped over the receiver and mouthpiece on two telephones and set to a special code to scramble the conversation.

The scramblers are especially useful for cellular telephone communications, which are conducive to accidental eavesdropping when signals get crossed and are easy prey for some frequency scanners sold in electronics shops.

Another item, which “sells well to lawyers,” is a bug detector resembling a simple smoke detector hanging over an office door. It sounds an alarm when someone walks in with a recording device.

“Under no circumstances am I promoting paranoia,” Mr, Bousquet said.

Robin Ingle, owner of Worldwide Security and Protection Corp., said that even large corporations have only limited security provisions. However, he said that awareness is growing as electronic eavesdropping gains ground in Canada.

“The threat is there,” Mr. Ingle said. The company’s Mississauga, Ontario showroom features a selection of more than 2,800 counter-surveillance and personal protection devices and new paraphernalia is added almost daily, largely from U.S. manufacturers.

Mr. Ingle said there is a need for the products because electronic eavesdropping technology is more and more accessible. Disgruntled employees, competitive businesses or simply the curious are apt to make use of it, he said.

“A lot of people don’t mind trying to gain an advantage” in whatever way they can, he said. “There’s a slipping in morals.”

Russ Donaldson, associate director of security for bell Canada, said that privacy is a concern with the growing volume of data such as computer and facsimile information transmitted over telephone lines.

“Trying to keep your data private and out of the hands of hackers is an ongoing challenge that everybody faces,” he said. “Anyone who is not protecting themselves is leaving the door unlocked.”

Security consultants say that while high-technology products are advertised in magazines and catalogues and a wide variety is available at stores such as Radio Shack, some can also be easily modified or made by hand.

Alvin Gabrielson, a buyer for Radio Shack in Canada, said the company stays away from products that can be used to intercept private conversations or telephone calls, but he realizes that a customer can try to use an item such as a radio frequency scanner to listen to private calls.

“There’s no way I can hold his hand and say, ‘You shouldn’t listen to that,’ ” Mr. Gabrielson said. “It is legal to sell the scanner.”

One of the most prevalent surveillance devices is a simple nursery or baby monitor, which is plugged into an outlet in one room and transmits sound to a receiver plugged into another outlet as far as several hundred metres away. It costs from $40 to $60.

“You put it behind a potted plant and you’ve got yourself a full-fledged bug,” Mr.Bousquet said.

The security companies themselves sell products that can he used to surreptitiously intercept private communications, such as “taping briefcases” equipped with audio or video and even microphones disguised as pens. However, the items come with disclaimers that they should not be used for illegal purposes

Security experts say companies can help protect themselves against “low-technology” theft and surveillance from inside and outside by shredding documents and restricting access to sensitive areas.

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Ever wonder if the walls have ears !!

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Toronto Real Estate News

By Laura Morrison. June 1, 1990.

Ever wonder if the walls have ears? Many companies are no longer taking chances — they’re investing in counter-surveillance equipment to ensure boardroom secrets stay that way.

Kevin Bousquet of Protect Your Business says since January he has sold counter-surveillance equipment and services to 90 firms listed on the Toronto Stock Exchange.

And his clients aren’t paranoid, he said. “When it comes down to dollars and cents, everything goes.”

Whether it’s a proxy battle, a hostile takeover or corporate espionage, things can get dirty. said the former private investigator. So companies are taking measures to protect themselves against electronic eavesdropping.

No security system will ever be infallible, Mr. Bousquet said. Even the most elaborate system can’t prevent a disgruntled employee from spilling the beans to a competitor.

And short of television spy Maxwell Smart’s cone of silence, there’s probably no way to beat the more sophisticated surveillance techniques. such as a laser that’s beamed on to a window from the outside to pick up vibrations while the occupants of the room are talking.

But interior security sweeps can prevent bugging from within. The security consultant recommends electronic sweeps of company boardrooms shortly before all important meetings.

The sweeps will detect any RF (radio frequency) bugs or hidden tape recorders. The firm Mr. Bousquet contracts out to charges $325 an hour for a sweep. The firm is operated by an ex-RCMP officer experienced in surveillance.

Those attending a meeting can be checked for bugs as they enter a room and a paper shredder should be placed inside to destroy confidential material at the conclusion of the session.

For those who really want to make sure they aren’t recorded, an audio jammer can be installed in the board room. This device will create background noise that will foil any attempts at tape recording. However, it will also make it difficult for those attending the meeting to hear what’s being said. For that reason, Mr. Bousquet recommends against using this type of equipment.

Business people can also purchase equipment to conduct their own security sweeps. These devices can detect RF bugs, tape recorders and even video cameras and range in price from about $900 to more than $3,000, depending on their capabilities.

Some detectors are so small they can be hidden in a suit pocket and will sense a bug or tape recorder when you shake hands with the person carrying them. “The government is very big on this stuff.”

Another popular device is the telephone scrambler. These come in pairs and work somewhat like walky talkies. Partners, for instance, can install them on their phones to ensure they have a safe line of communication that can’t be tapped. The battery-operated units can be attached to any phone including car phones. They retail for about $1,000 a pair.

Fax scramblers are also available for firms who conduct extensive business together and want safe lines of transmission. Like the telephone scramblers, the fax scramblers must be attached at both ends of the line. They retail For about $3,000 a pair.

Other James Bond-like gadgets available to the office market include electronic tap detectors ($395 to $1,300); phone censors that only accept calls with the proper pass code ($50); and call controllers that either prevent long distance calls from being placed or record record the telephone numbers of long distance calls and the extensions from which they were placed ($189 to $3,000, depending on capabilities).

And if your objective is to record your conversations rather than cloak them, there are long-play tape recorders you can attach to a telephone ($289 to $325) and briefcases with hidden tape recorders activated by the case’s handle ($725).

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