Earlier in 2018, a staff member at the Medina location of the Cleveland Clinic in Cleveland, Ohio, took a quick bathroom break – something she’d done thousands of times before. She walked into the restroom and immediately spotted a USB wall charger plugged into a wall outlet. Of course, with so many people owning smartphones these days, she didn’t immediately think anything of it. They’re practically ubiquitous – obviously someone had just left it behind on accident.

Hidden Cameras

But something caused her to pause, giving the situation a second thought. She couldn’t verbalize it at the time, but there was something that didn’t sit right with her. After taking a closer look at the device, she was horrified by what she discovered: it wasn’t a USB wall charger at all. Instead, it was a powerful little hidden camera that was made to look like a USB wall charger, specifically so that it could be slipped undetected into sensitive locations like this one.

Unfortunately, stories like this are becoming more common on a daily basis. We’ve reached a point where, for just a few hundred dollars and via an internet connection, nearly anybody could buy what they need to spy on you without your knowledge. Based on that, your number one option becomes clear: you need to be proactive about fighting back.

Never assume that you’re just being paranoid if you think that you’re being illegally surveilled because, these days, you just might be right. If you truly want to protect yourself from hidden cameras and other forms of illegal surveillance, here’s what you need to know.

Protecting Yourself From Hidden Cameras: Here’s What You Should Know

The most important thing to understand about the situation we now collectively face is that glancing around a room isn’t enough to make sure you’re not being watched. Not only are cameras incredibly small these days, but they can also be concealed in normal everyday objects – the USB charger above is just one example.

Because of that, you need to be incredibly vigilant about your own privacy. Don’t just look at something and assume you’re in the clear. Pick it up and examine it carefully before writing it off. One of the best lines of defense that you have in these types of scenarios involves reverse engineering the process someone would have to go through in order to spy on you in the first place. If you’re worried that someone may be watching you while you’re at your desk at work, for example, think about where they would have to place a camera in order to get the footage they needed. Would it have to be right behind you? Hidden in the ceiling? Halfway across the room in a fake alarm clock? Based on that, examine those areas to find out more about what is really going on.

Likewise, there are apps that you can buy on your phone that will help make this process go as easily and as efficiently as possible. One is called Hidden Camera Detector, for example, and is available for both iPhone and Android devices. Using your phone’s camera lens, it can help you scan the area to find hidden lenses that are between four and six feet away from your device. If something is detected that is worth a closer look, a message will appear on screen.

Keep in mind that you also need to assume that this type of illegal surveillance might be happening anywhere and everywhere – because sadly, it can be. That means being aware not only while you’re at home or in the bathroom at work, but in any public restroom or places that you may be staying at temporarily like a friend’s house or even a hotel. The only way we’re going to be able to protect our privacy is if we’re proactive about it and by following steps like these, you’ll be well on your way to doing exactly that.