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Counter-Surveillance: What it is and why it’s important


Definition of Counter-Surveillance:

Counter-surveillance is defined in the Merriam-Webster dictionary as “methods and devices used for detecting or thwarting surveillance.” Take, for example, a business that uses in-house janitorial services. Janitors clean the offices and remove trash. One night while cleaning the CEO’s office, a service worker moves a cabinet to clean the area behind it. Subsequently, the service worker discovers a digital recorder on the floor. Upon closer inspection, the recorder was set to the “on” position and a red light blinked when a sound was made. The worker turns the device over to security the following morning. Security ascertained that the device collected five days of private conversations.

Unintentionally, the service worker engaged in a form of counter-surveillance known as, physical sweeping or inspection.

The Affect

Business owners continually encounter obstacles in the ordinary course of business. Theft is one such example of an obstacle that may negatively impact a business. In fact, businesses have come to accept theft as a normal cost of doing business.

Ideas, concepts and designs are “intellectual property”. Protected by law as a trade secret, copyright, patent and trademark. The rate of theft involving intellectual property increases yearly with an economic cost of over $600 billion. Our firm encourages comprehensive background check screening. A basic element of counter-surveillance is foreknowledge. In-depth background checks for existing and future employees is an operational necessity. Preventing and mitigating damages to real property, intellectual property and reputation is achievable through due diligence. OnyxSpear welcomes the opportunity to provide services that protect and strengthen your company.

Intellectual property theft is serious matter and a federal crime. This type of theft is insidious, discovered only after damage has been done. The tools used to steal intellectual property include but are not limited to wireless/wired cameras and wireless/wired listening devices. OnyxSpear has broader counter-surveillance capabilities that may help in the prevention and mitigation of intellectual property theft.

The General Public

Counter-Surveillance is an area of specialization that has recently gained momentum in the public sphere. Traditionally reserved for governmental applications, our firm has noticed an increase in public inquiries related to counter-surveillance operations and its associated costs. Based on answers to questions we ask, this often involves ex-husbands and ex-boyfriends who engage in illegal audio and/or video surveillance. Miniature tape recorders, video cameras and tracking devices top the list of concerns. OnyxSpear offers an initial no cost consultation, helping us better understand a client’s concerns and needs.

Due Diligence

Knowing that potential electronic or human based surveillance threats exist, it is prudent for businesses to exercise due diligence that exceeds background checks. Individuals working for or under contract by a business, are likewise potential threats to intellectual property, material and sensitive information. Motivated individuals can strike at the heart of an organization by illegally using surveillance devices to capture sensitive business information. Precautions such as detailed background checks and proper counter-surveillance measures are more relevant than ever.

Safeguarding our client’s private and sensitive information is a duty that we take seriously. Please do not hesitate to contact our firm for a no-cost consultation regarding this matter. 

Please visit our Background Check page for additional information:

New York State Penal Law “Offenses Against the Right to Privacy”: https:///legislation/laws/PEN/P3TNA250

U.S. Department of Justice:


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