Bugging The Copy Machine

Sometime ago Popular Science magazine contained an article entitled, “Spies in the Xerox Machine”. It is regrettable that the author felt compelled to reveal this information on the method used as industrial espionage practitioners might otherwise never become aware of it.

In 1962 when the cold war was in full swing the CIA realized that the one person who had easy and regular access to the Soviet Embassy in Washington DC was the Xerox repairman. The agency went to Xerox and asked them to build a device that would copy each document passed through the copy machine. Xerox brought together several of its top engineers. Because of the secret nature of the project they rented an abandoned building in a shopping center to establish an impromptu research lab.

After months of search the engineers came up with a promising solution: Mount a battery powered 8mm home movie camera with a zoom lens inside the copier and aim the lens at the mirror used to reflect images onto the drum. Then add a photocell that would trigger the camera to snap one still frame whenever the photocopier lit up. The camera’s noise was drowned out by the sound of the copier.

After several successful experiments the team installed their “bugged” copy machine in the main Xerox office. When they developed the film they found a variety of pictures, recipes, music scores, cartoons, jokes, etc.

In this early version the movie camera and film would have to be replaced periodically by someone with access to the internal mechanism of the machine.

In 1969 a chemical company came up with a similar idea for spying on a competitor but was caught red-handed.

With today’s technology a miniature video camera and a wireless transmitter on a high frequency, i.e., between 1800 MHz to 2500 MHz is virtually undetected as it is out of the range of most radio receivers. The interception of the data is almost instant as there is no waiting for the retrieval and processing of film.

When the TSCM team is conducting their search they should be instructed to inspect and test the copy machine for the radiation of R.F. signals that might be the transmission of images.

Copy machines may not be located in or near sensitive areas in a facility but sensitive materials may be carried to them.

This is an important factor in a TSCM sweep and should be discussed in the report.


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