WHO'S LISTENING ?
Ian A Murphy President CEO
IAM / Secure Data System Inc.
COPYRIGHT 1988 & 1997 IAN A. MURPHY
Over the years, there have been a number of different studies and discoveries that would alter personal and electronic security over time. Devices able to "listen" to almost any form of communications have become commonplace and are available "over the counter" from a varied number of sources. Such units range from ten to fifteen dollars to expensive set-ups that employ microwaves and lasers for the interception of almost any audio signal in the spectrum. But now with somewhat needed protection from outsiders in reference to this problem, a number of solutions have been put in place and global protection is insured in environments that have such need. But the coverage of environment has had a major change in protective attention now being place on the actual electronic emanations that are so common with today's standard electronic apparatus. Electronic telephones, computers and communications networks, ATM's, radio and television stations are just part of the overall electronic bubble that we have placed our society into with the hopes of providing better and faster methods to make daily life a bit easier. But with such a fragile structure as the electronic bubble, we have new opportunities to discover secrets never before possible due to the lack of technology. The same technology that helps us in one way or another may also be helping others unbeknownst to those who are protecting the environment in the first place. Signal leakage, either by design or by accident may lead to total collapse of protective measures due to "wide open spaces" in the protective sphere. In this particular paper, we will discuss the possible problems of common office technology may bring in UN-securing your installation.
Our main focus will be in the areas concerning with the emanations or transmissions of "Tempest" frequencies. "Tempest", is the code name given to a specific area concerned with radio frequencies radiated by computing equipment by the U.S. Dept. of Defense. This "concern" from such equipment dates back to the late 50's. The concern ranged from the possible interception of "informational information" by sources other than the intended users of such.
The problem is more easily recognized by the current requirement of normal electronic equipment having to conform to emission standards put forth by the Federal Communications Commission in reference to the amount of electronic "noise" generated by common standard technology so that such signals do not interfere with other such pieces of equipment or their operations.
To describe in simple terms, Tempest frequencies are almost straight
through from commercial AM stations to the upper reaches of 600 MHz.
They are generated or transmitted by any number of different common
daily life electrical and electronic systems. Your TV puts out one
Frequency, the stereo another, the common electronic telephone,
Cordless phones still another, the microwave oven puts out another and
the wireless alarm does it to, and story goes on. So just as all of these
pieces of equipment emit a signal, so does the personal computer.
We will describe two possible examples of such informational information
and the ability for some with directed intent to cause potentially fatal
results due to the use of directed "noise". It should be noted that
the current specifications for "Tempest" approved systems is considered
Classified by the DOD and these specs were not available to the author.
But if one were to look at the specs for normal computing equipment
and reduce the allowed emission output by at least 50 percent, that
may be a realistic emission standard accepted by the DOD.
"We had better "Czech" this out!
In 1987, a very strange occurrence concerning foreign nationals from an Eastern bloc nation entered this country in a large camper-like truck via the border checkpoint at Niagara Falls, New York. The visitors numbering 4 or 5, were in the country under tourist visa's and were reported to be representatives of the countries automobile and truck industries here on a promotional tour to garner interest in their exportable products. The one problem with the "visitors" is that none of them had any connection with such industries in their home country.
In fact, the visitors were far from what they supposedly represented.
The group description read like a Who's' Who of mid-level management of
Eastern bloc intelligence operations. The group reportedly consisted of
a nuclear physicist, a specialist in aerial map-making complete with a
small ultra-light powered aircraft, a communications and computer expert
and two communist party officials.
Over a 5 month period, the group was reported to have visited 17 states
looking at 40 to 48 sites dealing with military and defense contractor
sites. The vehicle and its occupants were reportedly followed by over
100 agents of the FBI, NSA, Secret Service and State department and at
least one over flight of a military reservation was reported. Even though
the overflown site was not identified, one site was. This site, was the
"sensitive" naval communications center for the Pacific Fleet located
in San Diego. It was reported that the truck and it's occupants were
parked a few hundred yards from the facility for several days and
according to law, were in no violation of any current statute at the
time. The group was also at or around at the 2800 acre North Island
Naval Air Station based in Coronado, California. The spokesman for the
base stated that you could not see much of anything going on except for
the take-off and landing of aircraft which you could see from almost
Common sense states that you do not have to be inside the facility in
either a physical or electronic standpoint to collect information. You
can park in any lot or street close enough to your supposed target and
stick up your antennas. No property violations, no photo restrictions to
comply with, no restrictions at all because you are sitting in a public
place, parked or having coffee with your "ears" on. A good example of
such parking was reported in a paper published in Computers and
Security 4, titled Electromagnetic Radiation from Video Display Units:
An Eavesdropping Risk? by William Van Eck, copyright 1985.
He stated that when they were conducting their experiments in the open
roadways, with a van and antenna system that was quite noticeable,
no one asked what they were doing or had any thought about the time
spent doing such things.
The end of this particular story is as follows: At the end of the suspect
journey, the truck was searched at the Nosgales, AZ border checkpoint and
was then released. Nothing considered illegal was found in the search
and the truck and it's passengers were released and entered Mexico.
Now even though the truck was suspected of performing passive
"eavesdropping" operations, the federal government had no legal right to
hold either the truck or crew. And the possible intercepted information was
then released from the country. It should be noted that the truck could
have a number of standard "off the shelf" items. These items could
have consisted of 2 general coverage radios with a combined tuning range
between 100 kHz to 2 Ghz., an IBM personal computer clone, various
cheap video and signal enhancement equipment, printers and modems,
and other such complement devices.
None of the equipment would be any "James Bond" type of gear and the
basic suspected set-up would cost the operation less than 10,000 dollars
if budgeted correctly. And if possible, use of other simple off the shelf
type radios like the 200.0° unit available from Radio Shack that covers
150 kHz to 30 MHz is not at all unheard of due to some budget constraints.
And since most emanated signals generated by logical devices are within
commercial AM and FM frequencies, the use of a standard auto radio antenna
would suffice to use as a pickup.
So the major concern with such actions comes from the ability of simple
equipment to detect, register and decipher such emanations with relative
ease. The ability of such persons and possible actions able to penetrate
the electronic fog of our society should be a clear distinct warning to
those concerned with security in general.
In addition to all of the above, the author contacted various federal
government agencies in reference to this information and was told that
they had no knowledge of such an investigation and could not tell where
such supposed counter-intelligence operations were controlled from or who
to contact in reference to supplying such information. Current "Freedom
of Information Act" requests for information concerning this supposed
federal project are underway.
An interesting note about filing the forms for access to information
about the Czech incident is described to give guidance to others who
may wish to investigate this incident and seek help from such elected
When the papers were filed for the dissemination of information
through the Freedom of Information Act, members of the U.S. Senate and
Congress were contacted in reference to this matter. The first contact
was placed through Senator Arlen Spectors office in Philadelphia, Pa.
We were first rebuffed by persons who refused to identify themselves
with the statement " I am sorry, but that information is covered by
the 1974 Privacy Act, Click! Well we called back and informed the
person who answered the call of the situation and then were re-connected
and informed them that Czech citizens were not covered by US privacy
laws and that there was no invasion of privacy.
They called the FBI and asked if they were the way such things were
handled, and were told yes or no. But they had no answer for any question
put forward and said " They were sorry!", but we don't know how to help
you!. Our second contact to Senator Spectors office in Philadelphia as
in essence like the first, they would not assist nor would explain why
they took this position in the first pace. During our second contact
we spoke to a Miss or Mrs. Anderson. She stated that such requests
were not in the senator's purview and they could not assist in this
matter. When asked why it as not in the senators preview, we were
informed that they do not have to give a response. When asked for an
official response, we were informed that no official response would be
given. But as a side note, Senator Heinz office said that they would
forward the requests to Spectors office in Washington. One other
thought on this matter: I am sure that if the good senator wants to get
some information, his staff jumps through hoops to get him all he wants
and then some! A pre-publish copy of this article will be delivered so
that even he (or his office staff, who were of no help at all due to a
tough question placed to them by a citizen) may learn of what may be
going on in his own country. So much for gaining assistance from a senator
who sits on a judicial panel.
We visited next the office of John Heinz. He is dead now, but the story continues!
Again, funny looks about the Freedom of Information Act and they hemmed
and hawed at the questions presented. They took the requests and said they
would try and see what could be done. Our final visit was to our local
congressman, Tom Foglietta, who's office still stated the 1974 Privacy law,
but took the requests when presented in person. It pays to visit your
elected representatives working areas. So much to do (if you work there!)
in a government office. Other federal agencies including the FBI were most
helpful in complying with the requests. Of course we found this most
interesting. Is it so they could possibly reclassify the information to
a "Secret" status instead of what it may be now.
Other agencies contacted in reference to FOIA requests include the CIA,
NSA, NRO, Customs, State Dept., Army Automated Intelligence and Military
Police, FBI, FCC .
"Breaker, Breaker, Wally Gator!"
During the 70's, the United States had a short term love affair with
the Citizens Band radio. What were once clean channels were suddenly
crammed with persons who wanted to be able to communicate with any
number of persons who also had such capabilities. Suddenly, everyone
had one of these radios in the home or car and some were know to have
both. Numerous persons ran such rigs with varying illegal applications
ranging from a lack of license to the intense over powering of such
To give a brief explanation of CB's, we will keep it simple. CB's
transmit in the upper reaches of 26 MHz to 27 MHz or 11 meters band.
CB's are allowed to operate with a maximum output of 5 watts radiated
power. Of course this limited power was not sufficient for some users and
the use of linear amplifiers or "heat" was commonplace. Stations were
known to be transmitting 50 to 2 thousand watts to their antennas which
in turn would increase such signals to a power of over 2 hundred thousand
watts. Some operators were known to show the intense power outputs with
the use of fluorescent lightbulbs and the ability to "light" these tubes
from a distance without electrical connections with the amplified radiated
power of their antennas.
Some persons were known to have full control of channels in their
respective areas and would blank out anyone who would not conform to
the channels established rules or procedures. Others set-up pirate
stations that would broadcast commercial music for all to hear
complete with news, weather and sports. Such actions would tie up
frequencies and caused a general crackdown by the FCC in the later
years. But the problem still continues and the FCC has all but given
up on the idea of any enforcement of regulations concerning such
operations on the 11 meter or 27 MHz band.
The craze of CB's left the general populace by the late 70's and was
back in the hands of those who would truly use such radios. Those who
would use such radios best known, would be the persons called truckers
since that is what they do. They "truck" goods from one place to
another and are concerned with time and travel conditions as most of
us are. The truckers always had some "heat" on-board for those times
when they could not get their signal "out". It was and still is
considered an insurance policy by most who have this technology and is
widespread in its use.
Now over time, with the continued expansion of these radios, the
truckers began to switch to marine band radios in the 10 meter band
and were conversing just as before. Since the 10 meter band would
permit such radios and the increased power output, the switch to 10
meters was only a matter of time. Now, it is reported that most
truckers are using and abusing such frequencies and their is little
that can be done to stop such occurrences from happening. To add to all
of the mess, such radios have the ability to switch operating frequencies
with the touch of a button. In brief, the 10 meter radios can switch to
the 11 meter (CB) band with minor modifications. And back and forth
frequency hopping is as easy as tuning in the average auto radio.
One other interesting aspect of these 10 and 11 meter radios and their
use of 10 meter amplifiers, is the problem of interference generated
by the amplifiers due to the lack RF chokes and filters for the simple
reason that the unit is designed for use on the 10, meter band, not
the 11 meter band and that's what the chokes and filters look for, 10
meters, nothing more, nothing less!
Enter the common travelling person with a late model vehicle. Most
vehicles today have some form of directed artificial intelligence
working under the hood. The "brain" controls any number of common
operations ranging from air / fuel mixtures to how and when braking
systems will perform. Microprocessors in today's cars are as common as
seatbelts and are now required to assist in normal operations of said
vehicles. And this is where the problem begins. Since the auto must
have such control circuitry to function, then the possible interference
of such operations becomes a real threat. But what sort of threat
could be possible with a car, its control systems and a high powered
transmitting radio? Well, if one was to examine the idea of overriding
or shutting down said operations, the car would cease to function in any
proper manner. Such a shutdown could very easily cause fatal accidents
and the cause would be un-known due to all "looking" fine in any
Now we add to the scene, your common average trucker with such a radio
in his possession and the ability to transmit high powered signals as
one chooses. One example of such high power hijinks would be the
specific targeting of autos on the highway with a points / scoring
system based on performance, price, make and if the car was built in
the U.S. or not. What would be the outcome? To answer, it would be the
shutdown of the cars electronic logical systems causing other systems
on-board to do likewise in successive order. How can this come about?
Well the answer is quite clear, the high powered signal causes the logical
centers to conflict or ignore basic operational commands from the
microprocessor in turn causing the microprocessor to close down, then
cause a halt to basic actions and the car stops running.
Other known occurring incidents that have had some humorous and fatal
results have been reported in the past years by the press. Examples
1. As early as the mid-seventies, Volkswagen developed a computer
controlled fuel injection valve control system. The car worked perfectly
in Europe, but had some unexplained engine failures in the united
states. The problem of engine failure was intermittent and very short
lived when happening. The alleged cause of such failures were the
transmission of Citizens Band radio frequencies from either mobile or
base stations near by and causing an induced current sufficient to
cause a malfunction.
2. It was reported that some GM cars were having problems with the use
of two meter radios and the electronic control systems. Other cars are
reported to have some problems with cellular phones. Reports from
England even indicate such problems occurring in a wide spectrum of
autos in the area around Daventry due to RFI from the transmitter used
by Radio Four, a commercial station transmitting on 1500 meters along
with local AM and FM broadcasts. It seems that the station base was using
a very high wattage transmitter and that when the transmitter was
transmitting, the cars that passed close to the station would sometimes
shutdown the engine causing minor overall problems and some angry
If you look at this problem, you may see possible small
scale urban electronic warfare possibilities. Two such areas might
include the use of directed radio energy against late model autos by
law enforcement or worse, by terroristic factions seeking to do the
same thing. And one more example of such reports concern the sudden
acceleration problems with some imported cars in the U.S. An interesting
point to mention is that HONDA is offering owners of the 1988 Civic a
replacement chip because of such reported problems.
3. On the lighter side of the problem, it was reported in the November
24th, 1987 edition of the Baltimore Sun, that some residents of
Frederick, MD were having problems with the use of their electronic
garage door openers. Owners of such devices returned them to places
of purchase and found that the units worked perfectly. It was noted
that nearby, the U.S. Army operates a major communications center for
both domestic and international traffic. An Army spokesman stated that
they are not radiating anything that should lock up the garage door
receivers. It is also reported that when the Army turned off certain
transmitters, the garage door openers would work again. While the Army
stated that they were not the problem, the "problem" did disappear as
stated by the Army. You be the judge on this!
On the fatal side of this problem, incidents were more deadly than funny.
Although the cause of such incidents was all not due to an "Alligator"
radio, but it was caused by the same type of over powered radiated radio
emissions. The cause was high wattage again and was to effect a new type
of attack helicopter in use by 2 different U.S. armed services.
The helicopter, known as the AH-64, Blackhawk or the naval version named
Seahawk is considered, operational state of the art in low level air
combat situations and is highly electronic in its basic make-up and
operations. The problem was two fold in nature and both were to contribute
in the final discovery.
The first cause was due to the need of the design to employ a unique
horizontal stabilizer to help the helicopter improve it fly-ability.
The stabilizer was controlled through a series of electronically
activated hydraulic systems run through a microprocessor that in turn was
controlled from the cockpit through a series of other logical and
electronic relay systems. There was no physical connection between the
crafts flight controls and the pilot of the craft. What is meant, is that
the fly by wire method was replaced by a set of relays and hydraulic
attenuators instead of cables and pulleys. It may not a been as smooth as
the electronic flight, but it took an explosive charge to bring the
control to a dead stick and at the same time could be fixed with a pair
of wire cutters and clamps instead of a soldering iron and electronic
The second problem, being more unknown and deadly, consisted of radio
frequency interference stemming from a number of different sources.
One such source was found as a common citizens band radio with major
illegal power output. Another incident of the same type of nature was
discovered when one of the helicopters flew to close to a commercial
radio stations transmissions towers. Both times the flight ended in
fatalities for the crews. It was discovered that strong radio was the
cause. According to published reports, 5 UH-60 Blackhawks have
nose-dived into the ground killing 22 serviceman since 1982. And the
U.S. Army instructed it's pilots that flights near microwave antennas
or shipboard radar may cause "uncommanded" altitude changes. In English,
it translates to crashing into the ground at 600 miles per hour!
So, this basic simple problem was not thought of as one that was possible
even with the current concerns of systems management in the now fully
So, the first problem was that the controls of the craft are being
directed by impulses instead of physical controls. The second was the
use of un-protected electronics from both background and now, potential
directed uses of radio frequency energy as weapons of warfare or even
better, as stated before limited urban actions.
So now we take the approach of normal radio environment and place an
active thought to possible options no available to a direct force.
If reports of these natures are known to the general public, then what
is to stop the directed force from becoming a new invisible tactic
that can cause major disruptions of computer / communications systems
currently in use.
Lets take the current state of electronic protective measure in force
and used by the different defense agencies throughout the country.
First off, we have the problem of large Electro-Magnetic Pulses, (EMP's)
being able to disrupt command and communications links with the use of
one nuclear device detonated at a unknown range above the continental
Another example comes from outside theoretical research concerning the
SDI programs. One thought, from Theodore B. Taylor, a retired nuclear
weapons designer and father of the largest yield fission bomb, the
S.O.B., was quoted in an interview published in September, 1987.
He stated that if you explode a one-kiloton device in space and directed
the energy into a 3 centimeter beam of radiation, you could deposit
enough energy to wipe out electronic and electrical equipment - computers,
antennas, power lines, over an area larger that Washington, D.C. He was
also quoted as saying that microwave weapons are more than likely being
Now weapons of this nature are on a very large scale and require vast
amounts of energy too start with. But in a directed small beam aimed at
normal general construction type buildings, a directed beam of energy cuts
through walls, doors, and windows as if they were not even there.
Your example is some of the local television or radio stations in your
area. If you look at all or most of the stations, you might find a small
shack atop of their building. It may contain the microwave dishes for the
studio to transmitter links. The glass and wood are nothing to the
in-coming or out-going signals. Brick walls mean nothing to a radio
signal either. Just tune in your desk radio and listen to your
So this pulse would be able to short out almost all commercial electrical,
telecommunications, computer operations, and any other devices that
contain transistors or semiconductors for a circuit path. These basic
examples show what such types damage that these emissions may pose.
The second part of this problem is with the protection of such circuitry.
Great amounts of technology protection comes in the form of deep trenches,
standard and special grounding of buildings and equipment, cable and
support runways, and concrete encasements. Now this is all wonderful and
good from a military viewpoint where money is no object, but in the real
world, the use of such protective measures is not possible even for the
most prestigious of corporations.
Now if such large pulses can destroy equipment on a global scale. Then
idea of using such forces becomes a better local tool for the destruction
of security and measures taken to protect such devices and facilities from
a physical standpoint.
Ok now we know that the possibility of directed energy may be used to
disrupt the communications and operations of logical devices. There
are numerous ways to use such technology to gather and alter electronic
impulses. Another group of examples comes closer to the common man and
is happening all to frequently to the owner / operators of mass
communications systems. Best know, is the interruption of signals from
a Home Box Office satellite and the insertion of a message that stated
its subscription rate was to high. That one incident struck fear in the
hearts of the communications industry and showed that anything was
Other actions placed against commercial stations include the interception
and signal override of 2 television stations in the Chicago area. One such
action was placed against a Public Broadcasting station and the other was
directed to one of the "Super Stations" in the same area. The first pirate
transmission lasted 15 seconds and the second, two hours later, lasted 90
seconds. The Pirate, dressed in a Max Headroom facemask, uttered some
statement, although garbled and during the second incident, bent over and
exposed his / her rear and was struck on the behind with a fly swatter to
the shock of the viewers.
Of course the FBI and FCC were called in to
investigate, but investigations of this sort led to nothing more than an
Now to perform such deeds, one would have to contact either the station
the local office of the FCC to find out what the transmit and studio to
transmitter frequencies are. (And this goes for any transmitter registered
with the FCC. They will supply the name and location, frequency, and the
maximum legal output of such sites.) There are two frequencies used for
each television channel. One for the Audio and the other for the Video, or
the other option, to listen or watch the station until it sign's off for
the day (night). This one method does not lead to possible discovery and
the frequencies are given at sign-on and sign-off. A good example of such
frequencies is with a station located in Philadelphia, Pa. The station,
WPVI, transmits its audio signal on commercial FM frequencies.
The frequency is 87.8 MHz. Now anyone with a good transmitter could add
anything to the signal and no one would be the wiser until they did.
Examples of such transmitters and persons capable of doing this type
transmission is best described by the incident in the summer of 1987
concerning Radio New York. This radio station was considered a "pirate"
station and the federal government decided to move in and shut them down.
An interesting note to all of this, was that the station was located on a
ship anchored off the coast of New York outside US boundary's. Still the US
government with agents of the FBI, FCC, Customs and the Coast Guard boarded
the vessel, closed down the station, arrested the persons on-board and the ship was
taken in tow. End of that particular story.
On the other hand, two other stories of interest deal with the possible
and real way some may be able to jam or possibly damage state of the art
satellite communications. The first dealt with a group who call themselves
the American Technocratic Association based in Wilmington, Delaware.
This groups thought revolve around the scrambling issue in use by the
pay TV companies. The background of the members of this group claim to
have a good working knowledge of military radar communications systems.
The group claims to have the capability to jam a satellite with a few
mobile systems it has. One operation that the group hopes to undertake
was called "Operation Sunspot". The group claims to have areas mapped
out that have no treaty, regulation or statute dealing with the jamming
of a geo-stationary satellite. The one problem with all of this is that
such a thing could happen very easily. Now there are some who say that
such things could not happen, but if one is to look in a number of
magazines for such information on frequencies or locations, you could
So you say to yourself that you want to try this experiment. Well we
will not supply exact details of such techniques, but will say that
HAM radio operators have the ability to contact both American and
Soviet repeater satellites and if you wanted to you could do the same
thing. Now for your basic uplink to such systems, you would need a
transmit dish and the power behind the signal. So for a ten foot dish,
you would need 91 watts, a six foot dish, 280 watts. It may not be
dirt cheap to generate high powered signals in the mid range of 1-10
Ghz, but it does not present a great technical obstacle and surplus
gear is so easy to obtain.
You don't need large dishes with great amounts of power to do this.
All that is needed is a moderate size dish, a few tens of watts at
microwave frequencies, and Bingo! You've got an effective satellite
jamming station! And then you have to address the issue of the
telemetry channel. They may not be able to overtake the signal, but if
jam the signal with another, it may be possible to affect the
operation, stability or orbit of the target. Frequencies for such
channels are available from a number of sources and for as little as
$2.50 per frequency.
Now these examples and the reported stories dealing with television
stations interruption's are fast becoming one of the most feared aspect
of open air transmissions. Such transmitter frequencies are no longer the
domain of commercial radio and television stations. Transmissions on any
frequency are just a phone call away from suppliers who provide common
or business radio transmission technology.
So if satellite and television stations can be interrupted by such
forces, six million dollar helicopters are taken down because of CB
radios, and automobiles cease to operate due to a wide spectrum of
emitted signals, then the possibility to intercept and harvest vast
amounts of knowledge is available to those who wish to gather such.
Now to explain such basic interceptions are now commonplace with
horrific results to those who do not believe that such things can
happen. For a simplistic view of such emitted signals, take a standard
"Walkman" type of radio and visit one of the many locations of ATM's
or better known as "money machines". (This exercise may also be performed
near any standard personal computer if such machines are not available.)
and tune through the FM band. With careful tuning, one will be able to
"hear" machine functions occurring. Taking basic simple electronics, one
may have the ability to receive and reconstruct such impulses to a
Or an example of larger scale and better know, would be with the use
back-yard home satellite dishes. Dishes range from 6 to 12 feet wide.
Signals available include music, sports, news, movies, stock and
commodity trading quotes, weather, education and other such information
services. In addition to these services, a number of different multi-site
conference services are available from a host of major hotel chains as
well as privately organized meetings held for specific time periods and
All may be tuned through the use of a dish and sensitive
information that may not be available to someone, is then made available
and no one is the wiser! Transponders are not private, and are rented out
for only the time used. And one other thing that might bring you to your
senses about such signals, is that the signals are transmitted by the
satellite over a wide area to anyone who can receive such signals.
One other development is the small Micro-Sat by Norsat. This complete
system offers both satellite bands coverage, Ku and C, a small dish and
circuit board that fits inside an IBM PC. The unit downblocks 950 MHz to
1.45 Ghz, offers a maximum baud rate of 9600 BPS, frequency, bandwidth,
video and audio selectable formats and may be connected to the
VideoCipher II, B-Mac and Oak Orion descrambling systems.
Some other such signal reconstruction devices are now also available
through the mails. One such device is available in plan form from
Don Britton Enterprises and is called the Re-Process Sync Amplifier.
The device was developed to receive signals emanated from cable
television systems. What the device does in essence, is to take a
signal that "leaks" from cable TV systems and receives such, adds a
sync signal needed by the television set to display the received
signals and then sends the signal to the antenna input of the set so
that display may happen. Now if weak signal reception is available from
leaking cable systems, then the ability to receive weak signals from
logical devices is also possible.
Interception and Weapons Possibilities
Think about possible interception points pertaining to logical
security methods. Communications may be encrypted, data may be stored
in an in-active form and access is only a matter of time while the
interceptee is waiting for the dispersal. The next security concerned
area covered would be for the encryption of the information in its
stored and transmitted form. The encryption is all wonderful and good
for the transmission and storage, but does nothing for the information
as it is in its final stage to the human eyes! And you only have two
ways to get it to the eyes, in hard copy or by a video screen.
Now you think that interception is not possible since the information
encrypted, but the data must be decrypted so that the human connection
may use the information. The human connection allows for the reception
of said information by the afore mentioned devices and lets interception
to happen through the clear or decryption points of the attacked devices.
And one other point to mention; other possible effects of reception
transmission to security in general, could affect other controls ranging
from building energy management to security access and monitoring
To give a better understanding of such equipment, we will discuss
some of the devices known. One such device known as the Van Eck device
and the other is called the Re-Process Sync Amplifier. Some may feel that
there are two different systems involved in this discussion, but the
author finds no major difference between the two, with the exception of
the Van Eck device is built for operation on European voltages and has a
built-in digital frequency meter. The one major difference found is with
the dates of copyrights for the two devices. The Don Britton device
is dated 1979, while the Van Eck unit is dated October,1985.
Note: Another unit, with plans for such devices, are available from
Consumertronics, located in Alamogordo, New Mexico. Besides the plans
for a Van Eck type reader, one book offers information in reference
to computer crime and countermeasures, how systems are penetrated, BBS
advice, Password defeats, TEMPEST, crosstalk amplifiers and a 200 word
phreaking terms glossary. All for only $15.00
We will begin with a basic understanding of the inner workings of the
device. The one other major basic difference with the two reader boxes is
that the Van Eck box is designed for use with TV's and VDT's used in
Europe as compared with the Britton box built for use in the United
States. This device in general, is designed to restore and regenerate the
sync and colorburst signals and ignores all information appearing during
either the vertical or horizontal blanking. Its basic result is
reconfigure through the use of supplying artificial external signals
inputted directly to any video monitor through a simple 10-50 dollar
modification of the TV or video monitor, or in simple English, takes a
weak video signal and tries to shape or match it and then boost its
output to a normal television screen.
One other interesting thought comes to mind with the use of video tape
copy protection methods. Since these methods use a means that makes it
tough on the VCR not the TV from generating signals for tape duplication,
there have been a number of devices that assist in the restoring and
re-structure of the picture and sound. One device is known as the
"Line Zapper". The device helps to adjust the brightness changes, vertical
jumping and jittering, and video noise. It is available in kit or complete
form. Pricing starts at $69.95 and complete tested units cost $124.95.
Now if this unit can assist in the filtering and structuring of
commercially induced weak signals, then it should be able to take a
boosted signal presented to it and clean the picture to something of
useable form. Some may see this only as a filter for video processing
with a focal point on the actual copy-guard techniques, but such a
device incorporated into the Van Eck type of gear should assist in the
overall signal restructuring.
Now one other interesting point about possible video signaling
re-construction methods was addressed in a multi-part series published in
Radio-Electronics based on the methodology used for the construction of
video signals scrambled by different vendors of cable and over-the
air pay television. The series dealt with all aspects and methods of
video and audio, (complete with discussions on the DES methods used for
the VideoCipher units and the like,) used in commercial systems in use.
One other thought comes to mind of an experimental nature. Since the
screen of a computer is not always changing and for the most part stable
in its display, why not take the received signal and digitize it!
You could filter out signal noise clean up any true video signal present.
This is no great techno-wonder, the basic gear could be put together with
Radio Shack or the like types of equipment. And the cost is still most
reasonable. If not available there, costs for home-brew gear would not be
that high. The simple electronics blocks would consist of comparators,
video detectors, data seperator gates, a to d - d to a converters,
data amp and a signal level converter.
Or the better version, might be a modified slow scan television system
with error correction and clean-up circuits. Such units work over normal
phone lines or standard radio channels and since the units can take
signals from these two different types of inputs, there should be no
problem in adapting the unit to accept a cleaned up analog signal from a
Away from the world of the experimental thoughts, we return to the
point at hand....
Now there are two types of monitors used today. The first, called
composite and the second using TTL logic to control the screen and its
pattern. The composite screen is nothing more than a television set or
Apple computer type of monitor. The construction of the picture is
performed by a beam of electrons that are scanned across the screen at a
rate of 525 lines per second. Since the majority of screens are of a
composite nature ( this is even true in most IBM environments) the
ability to receive the signal is very possible from a radio emission
The reception of such signals is not fairytales, but comes with reality
attached through the use of simple electronics. The first part of the
reception project is to have a method of signal acquisition and
amplification. Such gathering may be performed by the use of standard
electronics store technology. For this example, we will use common
Radio Shack electronics. The reason is due too the common variety
electronics that are available to most persons needing such science to
accomplish the required gathering.
To start, since a base station is out of the question due to the weak
signals one would have to receive. So the need for transportable equipment
is a must. Antenna, amplifier, sync process unit and display medium
must be powered in the transit unit. Depending on budget and (BEL)
(Basic Equipment List) requirements a fully battery operated set-up
can be constructed for under ................
Our two systems described here will be different only in basic
construction and budgetary BEL's.
The "Radio Shack" Reader
1. The antenna could consist of a Radio Shack TV/FM # 15-1611 for 49.95
2. If needed, Radio Shack in-line signal amplifier 10 dB gain # 15-1117
3. Radio Shack RF Video Modulator # 15-1273 for 26.95
4. The Britton or Van Eck unit (Cost unknown due to construction needs)
5. The tuning unit may consist different available FM,TV,UHF tuners
available for the tuning of TV Sound & Picture reception and
possible recording. Costs for such units range from 319.95 to 119.95
The 319.95 unit can operate on AC / DC, has audio / video input jacks
and can operate on 9 "D" batteries. Other possible useable units would
be # either # 16-109 or 16-111. The units cost 219.95 and the other
159.95 Both are able to tune in the full commercial AM / FM and
VHF/UHF Television signals, The low end of the cost spectrum would
be the RS # 16-113 at 119.95 This unit also has the same spectrum
The Gold Plated Unit
1. The antenna could consist of a Radio Shack TV/FM # 15-1611 for 49.95
(Or due to the use of better reception electronics having built in
antennas. But due to the need for amplified signals being inputted
to the receiver we will still possibly use the RS amplified antennas.)
a. It is also possible to use any number of amateur radio antennas.
For the purpose of maintaining a low profile, we will use one of the
standard active receiving antennas that has a spectrum of reception
from 50Mhz to 1 Ghz. Such units are available from mail order supply
2. If still needed, Radio Shack in-line signal amplifier 10 dB gain
# 15-1117 for 15.95 It is also possible to use # 15-1105 Indoor FM
Signal Booster with switchable 0,10 or 20 dB gain at a cost of 24.95.
3. Radio Shack RF Video Modulator # 15-1273 for 26.95
4. The Britton or Van Eck unit (Cost unknown due to construction needs)
5. Tuning units- The tuning units would consist of 2 separate radio
units. The units, both ICOM's have a combined tuning range of 100 kHz
to 2 Ghz.
a. Unit 1 (R-71a) tunes from 100 kHz to 30 MHz. This unit is nothing more
than a short-wave receiver with excellent signal reception and frequency
stability that offers far better overall signal interception quality.
The unit offers 1 Hz tuning and has digital frequency readout.
As an option, this unit may be controlled by an IBM or compatible PC.
Cost for this unit is $949.00
b. Unit 2 (R7000) covers 30 MHz to 2 Ghz. This unit is a general coverage
receiver with excellent signal reception and frequency stability that
offers far better overall signal tuning and interception quality.
Also this unit can be computer controlled through an IBM or
compatible. The unit offers .01 Hz tuning and has digital frequency
readout. Additional abilities of the unit include signal output and a
IF output of 10.7 MHz with other frequencies available. The cost for
the unit is $1099.99.
This particular unit also has an option for the
output of the video signal and connection of any standard video monitor
for 130 dollars. For an additional 160 dollars the unit can have the
ability to receive signals from 20 kHz and go all the way to the
specified 2 Ghz. The unit needed is called a Kuranishi FC-7000
frequency converter. With additional commercial television MDS tuning
equipment, ranges can exceed 2.7 Ghz. Costs for this will range
between 79 and 109 dollars. Since we will be mostly dealing in the
lower ranges of frequencies, an added piece of gear may be used to gain
the best signal reception points available. This is through the use a
Radio Direction Finder available from American Electronics for 100
Now with all this equipment for both systems, another basic system
with minimum cost is readily available to many for under 100.00
dollars. This we speak, of is the common Black & White Television set
available in mass quantities from any number of sources. It has been
reported that such interception capabilities are possible and have
occurred without the interceptee knowing until the Communications
Commission have contacted the source of the emitted signals.
For example, some personal computers and their respective screen have
been known to been picked up on the TV screens of their neighbors and
through nothing more than rough or fine tuning the reception. The reason
is due to the TV having the ability to automatically adjust the Sync
signals to those close to the frequency of intercepted computer screens
sync frequency. This "ability" is available through the use of a common
manual type tuner on a standard Black & White set with a normal
directional antenna and an standard antenna amplifier. All three
devices in common life and attached to your own television receivers!
You have such devices if you have an antenna on your roof or attached
to your set. Most have attached signal amplification due to the ever
growing background noise generated by normal commercial stations and
reception characteristic In simple term, the guy next door can read
your screen and you don't know it. Now take the number of personal type
computers in a standard corporate environment, calculate the possible
dollar figures of the combined information contained in these machines,
and substantial sums become more evident than ever before. If business
plans, formulas or patent-trade information, client lists, or any
other type of valuable information and since that information will be
called up at any time or current work performed is wanted in the
surveillance gathering operation and then you have a completely wide open
way of monitoring the daily practices and transactional actions with
complete impunity and security of such areas is completely unguarded due
to the lack of knowledge.
For experimental purposes, we will use very simplistic computer systems
to give an idea of what may be possible. The equipment shall be basic,
over the counter, cheap, electronic systems to gather and produce the
signals we which to collect.
The equipment list is as follows:
1. Franklin Ace 1200 (Apple II compatible)
a. Franklin Ace Serial / Parallel Card
(Parallel card is in use for the 2 printers.)
b. Apple Super Serial Card (RS-232) for use with the communications
2. Franklin Video Monitor (40 or 80 characters display) 18 MHz
( Standard IBM monitors radiate at 15 to 16 MHz )
3. Prometheus ProModem 1200 (External type)
a. Okidata Microline 92
b. Epson MX-80
Our basic reception / interception equipment consists of:
1. Bearcat 250 (50 Channel) Scanner
(Coverage from 32-50,146-148,148-174,420-450,450-470,470-512 MHz)
2. Soundesign FM Stereo Tuner (86.5 MHz to 109.5 MHz)
3. Electrobrand AM-FM-SW-CB-TV-PB-AIR-Weather
The AM and FM are standard commercial band receivers.
SW is short-wave from 4 MHz to 12 MHz
TV coverage is from audio channels 2 through 13
AIR band from 108 through 135 MHz
Public Band is 145 through 175 MHz
4. A Gould OS 1100 A Oscilloscope 25 MHz range
Since we will not try to re-construct the actual video signal generated,
as this has already been done, we will not have to explain what we receive
as a picture. What we will cover is the gross signal output of standard
population computerized logical systems.
In our observations, we have seen a wide spectrum of emitted signals
with a strong signal between 9.0 and 9.250 MHz for the display of
standard text scrolling by. Better signal display was found at the
lower frequencies of 9 MHz. Monitor frequencies were found in the area
of 11 through 19.5 - 20 MHz. Printer frequencies are in the range of
140 to 200 MHz. Disk operations were detected in the ranges of 88 to
250 MHz. Overall frequency generation was from 4 through 500 MHz.
The modem was found between 28 and 300 MHz. All in all, this easy
discovery of radiated or transmitted signals by means of common radio
technology could lead to.
An interesting thought comes up with the use of some common ham
transceivers for such operations, and with simple, easy modifications,
some can transmit on all frequencies from 1.6 t 30 MHz. Such a transmitter
would be the Kenwood 440. This transceiver offers 100 watt output and as
stated all frequency transmit. To perform the small modification, all one
would have to do is cut one lead to a diode (Diode D 80) and as an added
bonus for better frequency readout, you gain an additional readout of
10 Hz by snipping the lead to Diode 66.
So the unit covers the range of
IBM PC frequencies in use and all of the Apple systems too. That's says it
all! It can offer the possibility for disruption of internal signals used
to process information and the possibility of causing other logic related
systems to act or not without reason.
For example, would it be possible for the Soviets to sit under cover
a modified Kenwood 440 100 watt radio or better yet, a Radio Shack 40
channel AM / SSB and a 100 watt Firebird linear amplifier and a simple
small antenna to disperse the signal. So the problem of the 6 million
dollar helicopter comes down to a wholesale cost of 150.00 ( 190.00 to
200.00 for an average rip-stop nylon camping backpack unit ) per man with
a recommended dispersal of 3 manpacks per unit into the theater.
Suspected effective ranging up to 3 miles per man pack unit is suggested.
Or even better, if such things were possible against military aircraft
or normal commercial real world autos, then directed intent should be
of now problem against civilian targets such as computer installations,
bank and operations support structures, possible override of security
systems and any other systems that may be affected by such forces.
Other uses of directed energy may be used in law enforcement situations
for the apprehension of suspected persons in late model automobiles.
If the truckers are using the radios for game playing, then why can't the
police have the same type of device for the stopping of autos? There are a
number of devices that will radiate such energies over the spectrum.
One such device would be the Radar Speed Gun Calibrator (or better know
a radar jammer) for use with calibration of speed guns or for the
deceiving of police radar units. The plans for such units were (are)
available for a number of sources. One such source, is Philips Instrument
Company or another such source was the Radio-Electronics issue in the
spring or summer of 1987 with plans for the Radar Speed Gun Calibrator,
that would allow you to transmit a signal that would equal the same type
of reflected signal from an automobile traveling at the supposed testing
speed. Range's of speed signal output would equal 5 mph to well over 100 mph.
Some plans or kits come with instructions for the combination of radar
jammer units with most commonly available auto radar detector units.
In simple terms, the radar detector unit detects a signal and through
its display or attention getting circuitry in turn activates the radar
jamming equipment to deceive or jam the police transmitter / receiver
units. Best know of such combinations, were the use of Escort radar
detectors and jammer units with transmission horns mounted behind the
front grill of autos. No ifs, ands, or buts, they work!
One other piece of equipment that may have devastating effects on overall
security and support systems, deals with the generation of very high
energy pulses that might be classified as being able to generate EMP's
that could damage almost any piece of electronic gear. The claim from the
designer is that this device can generate a pulse with an effective range
of multi-millions of watts. The device on average will produce a pulse
equal to 400,00 watts in a testing mode with the multi-million outputs
available with full charging of the capacitor banks peaked. Also stated in
this book is the ability of the unit to produce a very large inductance in
near by electronic gear. Most interesting! And the only statement in this
book about the device and it's short coming, has to deal with the
in-ability of the device to produce sufficient output used in certain
nuclear experiments. I wonder what that means?
So, in closing, the capability of these units is well within the range
any person with the intent comes closer to home than ever before.
The equipment is nothing of major technical wonderment, just a few simple
block circuits put together to each other so that they work together to do
the final requested product. And all of the described gear or plans may be
in the hands of everyday persons even if they don't know it! And while
most do not have such knowledge about how such systems may be used to
corrupt other systems, or even how the average telephone or toaster may
work, they will still state that such described technology is not
possible, and open the door to major disaster due to complete ignorance to
In closing, to steal a phrase from someone else, "The truth
shall set you free (or may keep you from being over exposed from free
"Click!" And the last words spoken by the corporate DP official
" That's impossible! You could never do that to my operation!
Ahem, Sure sir, Sure!