Using thermal imaging for security

Do you work in counter surveillance or physical penetration testing? The physical security field in general? If yes, have you considered using a thermal imaging camera to help you in your work?

A thermal imaging camera is a camera that operates in the infrared spectrum, and shows you the temperature of objects in its field of view.

A picture is worth a thousand words, they say, so let me show you a series of illustrative thermal images.

This is a thermal imaging camera:

This is a thermal image of an active CCTV camera dissipating heat:

Here is an inactive/fake CCTV camera:

Armed with this info, you can spot active CCTV cameras on buildings:

Here’s a microphone:

This is me wearing normal glasses:

These are “spy glasses”:

This is a pen with a hidden camera:

I just entered the PIN 1-2-3-4 on this electronic keypad:

This office chair was recently used:

So was this mouse:

This car was recently parked here:

This car has been parked for some time:

I hope this series of pictures gave you some ideas on how a thermal imaging camera can come in handy. Of course, there can be environmental factors that prevent you from using it successfully. For example, when the sun is shining, objects will heat up and you will no longer be able to see their internal heat. Also, not all electronics dissipate enough heat to stand out, and some materials don’t conduct enough heat.

Author: Didier Stevens (Microsoft MVP Consumer Security, CISSP, GSSP-C, GCIA, GREM, MCSD .NET, MCSE/Security, MCITP Windows Server 2008, RHCT, CCNP Security, OSWP, WCNA) is an IT security consultant currently working at a large Belgian financial corporation. In 2012, Didier founded his own company Didier Stevens Labs.

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