With technology becoming increasingly more sophisticated by the minute, hidden cameras are becoming more of a security concern for many people. Many travelers worry about whether or not their hotel or Airbnb hosts have hidden cameras located in common areas, or even worse–private areas such as bedrooms and bathrooms.
Many hidden cameras are designed to look like decorations or normal household objects. Fortunately, there are still methods that will show you how to detect hidden cameras using various tools and tricks available to the average consumer.
How to Detect Hidden Cameras & Listening Devices
When trying to determine whether or not you are being watched by a spy camera or eavesdropped on by a listening device, the first step is to always conduct a visual search of your area.
Look for any items that seem odd or out of place. Since many hidden cameras are designed to look like normal household items, be sure to look at each item that could potentially contain a camera.
Most cameras and audio recording devices require a power supply or battery of some sort. Due to this, you may be able to locate a power cable leading to an object that otherwise should not have one.
You may also pick up an item that seems to be too heavy for its size. That could be an indication that the item contains a battery or internal mechanisms that are adding extra weight.
Detecting Hidden Cameras with Mobile Phone
Once you have conducted a visual search, you may also want to try sweeping the area with a network scanning app on your smartphone. There are many apps that perform this function available for both Android and iPhone.
Network scanning apps
Network scanning apps will display all of the devices that are connected to a particular internet connection or network. These days, most hidden cameras and listening devices are connected to a wireless connection so that the owner can log in to them and spy remotely in real-time, whenever they like.
When looking at the list of network devices, make note of any devices that have a manufacturer name that is known for making cameras or security equipment.
Some devices will even have the word camera in the device name.
Also, if the number of devices listed is more than the number of devices you can visually see connected at your location, that could be another indication of a hidden spy device.
Jot down the IP address of any suspicious device and scan to see which ports the device is connected to.
Any open ports using a service that contains RTSP or RTMP could be streaming live video via the network. If you see a service that uses HTTPS or HTTP, try to visit that address using an internet browser to see if it is a video stream.
Use the following format: IP address, colon, port number (for example, if the IP address is 123.000.1.03 and the port number is 60, you would type this into the address bar of your internet browser: 123.000.1.03:60).
Use Your Smart Phone to Search for Infrared Light
In the event that you are not able to scan the internet network at your location, there is another way to use your phone to locate a hidden camera. In order to provide night vision capability, most spy cameras make use of infrared light.
If you’re lucky, one or both of the cameras on your smartphone will not have a filter that blocks infrared light. In order to test this, you can get an infrared remote-any working TV remote will usually do the trick.
Point the remote towards your phone and take a picture of the remote’s sensor while pressing a button on the remote. If you see the infrared light from the remote show up when you take a picture, then that camera will be able to detect infrared light from a hidden camera also.
When you find out which camera is able to detect infrared light, turn off all lights in the area in which you are conducting the sweep. It’s definitely best to also do this at night so that it is as dark as possible.
Take pictures of each area of the room and inspect each picture for glowing light. If you find any glowing lights in the area, inspect the object the glow originated from for a hidden camera.
Detecting Hidden Cameras in Mirrors
Believe it or not, many hidden cameras can be located behind a mirror. Most people would not think to inspect a mirror when conducting a sweep for a spy camera; Therefore, they often go undetected. We will now go over how to find hidden cameras in a mirror.
First, you will want to test each mirror in your location to make sure it is not a two-way mirror. To do this, simply place your fingertip on the mirror.
If you are able to see a gap between your fingertip and the reflection of your fingertip in the mirror, then it is a normal mirror.
However, if you touch the mirror and the reflection of your fingertip appears to touch your fingertip with no gap in between, it may be a two-way mirror.
The fingertip test should not be used as a 100 percent confirmation of a two-way mirror. There are many different reasons a mirror may not produce a gap between your fingertip and its reflection.
To inspect the mirror further, grab a flashlight, and turn off all lights in the room so that it is as dark as possible. Place the flashlight directly up to the mirror. If it is a two-way mirror, you should be able to see the area behind the glass.
Tapping on a mirror can also indicate whether or not there is hollow space behind it. A regular mirror will produce a dull tapping sound, while a two-way mirror may sound hollow, have a slight echo, or sound sharp when tapped.
How to Detect Hidden Cameras in Your Home
It is the utmost invasion of privacy to feel like you are being spied upon in your own home. If you suspect a visitor, intruder or another resident of your home has installed a hidden spy camera or recording device in your home, there are a few things you can do to check.
We previously mentioned using a hidden camera detector app to find devices on a network that you may not recognize. This may be tricky to do at a hotel or Airbnb since you usually do not own the network there and have limited access.
However, you usually can obtain more access to the network at your home, especially if the connection is set up under your own name/account.
Since you are familiar with your home, be sure to conduct a visual inspection to look for any new items or devices that have been brought into your home by others or items that appear to have been moved recently. Here is a helpful list of items/areas you may want to check:
- Electrical outlets
- Wall sockets
- Air filter equipment
- Stuffed teddy bears/toys/figurines
- Couch cushions, shelves, and tabletops
- Wall decor
- Smoke detectors
- Lamps and lighting fixtures
How to Scan Networks for Hidden Cameras
As mentioned earlier, a hidden camera detector app is a great tool if you are trying to find hidden cameras that may be connected to your local internet network.
Since you are more likely to be more familiar with the devices in your home that connect to the internet, it should be easier for you to identify any devices that are new or do not belong to you or anyone you know.
The person who installed the spy device may have connected it to a hidden network that you are not able to access, but it is still a good idea to scan your own home network to be sure.
This is also a good way to make sure that your neighbors are not secretly using your internet connection. If you don’t recognize a particular device that is connected to your internet connection or there are more devices connected to your network than you know that you have, then that is worth looking into further.
You can find a network scanning app for your smartphone by searching for one on Google, The Apple App Store or Google Play, depending on the type of smartphone you have. Most of these apps work in the same way–they will display all devices connected to a particular network, along with the name of the device, its IP address and the port it is using.
Now that you know a bit more about how to detect hidden cameras in your hotel, Airbnb, or home, you should be able to check these areas thoroughly for any hidden cameras or listening devices.
Always double and triple-check to make sure that any devices you find are actually hidden spy devices and not something more innocent before you make any accusations or alert your local authorities.