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German specialist MIB is not new to the security business – it has been producing ‘spyphones’ for at least eight years according to company President, M C Kneher, speaking to Mönch at Security & Counterterror (SCTX 2017) in London this week.

The simple expedient of moving the phone’s camera from the ‘back’ to the ‘top’ of the device means photos and video (and associated audio) can be captured unobtrusively, without the operator telegraphing his intent by having to hold the phone in an operational mode clearly visible to the subject. Even if a hostile observer is in a position to see the phone screen direct, the fact that the surveillance operations interface can be instantly ‘buried’ beneath an innocent (and fully functional) game interface further reduces the chances of detection or interception.

These qualities have led to the company already selling several hundred phones to customers including armed forces and public security organisations such as Ministries of the Interior, Departments of Homeland Security, etc., according to Kneher. The intuitive GUI means the training requirement is minimal and the software is infinitely customisable to take unique user requirements or legal constraints into account. Some regulatory environments, for example, require audio capture to be disabled in most circumstances: others require every frame of a video capture to be time/date-stamped – up to 30 times per second. All this is simply achieved in the MIB application, Kneher told Mönch.

Typical applications include surveillance of suspicious individuals in crowded and vulnerable environments, such as airport departure lounges. But Kneher sees the future for spyphones of this nature as being altogether broader. “One of the big changes coming is to integrate this technology into broader security architectures – such as those being developed under the various ‘Safe Cities’ programmes now in progress,” he explained at the show. With 20 billion interconnected devices expected on Planet Earth by the middle of the next decade as the Internet of Things truly takes hold of society, such a capability could be worth its weight in any precious metal you care to mention.

 

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