From time to time there are reports in the media about spy cameras in hotels rooms or in Airbnb apartments. These cameras are used to spy the gusts. But there are other spy gadgets then cameras, there are gadgets to attack wireless connections or to collect all keystrokes of a system.
In this article is a list of some spy gadgets and why some off them are illegal in Germany. At the end there are tips to protect against these spy gadgets.
What is not allowed in Germany
The most spy gadgets are legal in Germany but when you use them to spy somebody you are guilty of the violation of privacy. But some spy gadgets are also illegal in Germany.
After paragraph 90 of the German telocomunication law (‘Telekommunikationsgesetz’) it is not allowed to have ‘things of the daily use’ to capture of sound or video 
If you break this law you can go to jail up to two years.
For example there are a USB cables that has a microphone and a sim card. The cable can be controlled via SMS or phone call to record audio. The costs of such cables are only about $8.
An other example is an alarm clock with an integrated camera. This camera is hidden behind a one sided mirror and also has a night sight. The camera records when it detects a movement in front of the camera. This alarm clock cost about $20.
Spy Gadgets that can be bought by everybody
The most people think of spy/mini cameras when they think about Spy gadgets. In the last years the technology has improved so much that a good camera can be put in very small case. In the picture below you can see such a mini camera. This camera can take photos and videos at a quality of 1080p. The camera also needs a battery and a chip to process and save the output of the camera. Those two components can connect through a cable, so the only tiny case is visible. Some of these cameras have more features such as a night vision or a motion detector. Almost every mini camera has the feature to be connected to a wireless network to get the saved data or watching the live video. The recording time depends on the battery.
You can buy such cameras online and the price starts by about $30. But it can get more expensive if you want all the features.
The second most known spy gadgets are GPS tracker. GPS tracker can be put in everything such as a key chains or bike lights. The smallest GPS tracker you can buy are at the size of fingernails. These small tracker can track the position approximately for two hours. If the tracker has a GSM module, you can see live where the tracker is at your computer or smartphone. It also can let you know when the tracker leaves a predefined area. The picture below shows the size of a tracker that has an GSM module.
GPS tracker prices starts at $20.
Deauther Wristband V2
The Deauther Wirstband is build for the project ‘esp8266_deauther’. This project is a software for a microcontroller to disconnect devices from WI-FI. With this software you can search for WI-FI and attack the networks with simple attacks. One of these attacks is to send deauthenticate packets in the network. If a connected device gets this package it will be disconnected.
The Deauther Wirstband can be purchased on the official website for $36.
Website : https://dstike.com/products/dstike-deauther-wristand-v2 esp8266_deauther on Github: https://github.com/spacehuhn/esp8266_deauther
USB-Ninja is in the first place just a standard USB cable that can be used to charge or transfer data. In the plug of this cable is a chip where you can put your attack and when you press the button on a remote control the attack will be executed. For example an attack can be to emulate some key presses. To transfer data to the chip it must be switched into the programming mode. To do this you need to place the magnetic ring on the USB plug when it is plugged in to your computer. Now you can load your program onto the chip. In the picture below you see the USB-Ninja cable, the remote control and the magnetic ring.
The USB-Ninja can be bought for Micro USB, Lightning or USB Type C. The cable costs $100 and the remote control costs additional $60.
A Video Ghost is a cable that can take screenshots of the monitor that it is plugged in. The Video Ghost is a standard cable extender for HDM, DVI or VGA that has an additionally USB plug. The cable has an internal storage of 16 GB. It’s powered by the cable over the USB plug. When the cable is set into the USB mode, it can be access as a normal USB flash drive. In the picture below you can see the Video Ghost for HDMI.
The Video Ghost can be purchased for $130.
Lime SDR is a Software Defined Radio(SDR) platform that supports almost every wireless connection type. With this gadget you can read the communication of your mobile phone with the next radio station or the station of your WI-FI.
The price of the Lime SDR starts at $200.
Crazy Radio PA
The Crazy Radio PA is a USB radio chip which is used to control drones. It can send data in a distance to one kilometer. This chip is also used in many wireless presenter. It can be used to send key presses to the receiver of such presenter. With this chip somebody can interfere in your system even when he is 1 km away. In the picture below you can see the Crazy Radio chip with an antenna.
For €35 you can buy this chip.
The Chameleon Mini is the result of a Kickstarter campaign. With this gadget you can read NFC communication. Another feature is that it can clone and emulate NFC cards. The gadgets can save the data of different cards at the same time. In the picture below is a Chameleon Mini that can save 8 different NFC cards.
The Chameleon Mini can be purchased for €90. You can also build it by your own because the platform is open source you can load the source and manuals from GitHub.
The AirDrive is a Keylogger that is in a USB extender. The AirDrive must be plugged in between the keyboard and the computer. The gadget has a minimum of 16 MB storage with that it can save approximately 8,000 pages of text. The best model has 16 GB of storage and it can save approximately 8,000,000 pages of text. All models of the AirDrive can be connected to a wireless network. Then the AirDrive e-mails the data to you. The better models can also send the pressed keys in real time.
The cheapest model starts at €45 and the best model costs €87. On the picture below you can see the best model.
How to Protect
The protection against such gadgets is difficult because there are no gadgets or software that block or disable the spy gadgets.
The best thing you can do is to look out for some changes on your system or inconsistencies in your environment. If you spot something that looks suspicious then check what it could be. When you know many of the spy gadgets it is easier to spot them.
Furthermore, you should update your system to the newest version and configure it the right way.
There are some gadgets that can help you find spy gadgets. But how good they are and if they are useful to protect spy gadgets is controversial.
This gadget sends out a bright light that will be reflected by camera lenses. If you watch through the viewfinder, the hole in the middle of the LEDs, you should see a bright reflection of the camera lens of the hidden camera. The gadget claims that they find all cameras up to a distance of 10 meters.
These gadgets start with a price around $100.
White Noise Generator
A White Noise Generator is a gadget that play background noises. This background noises interfere with the recordings so no conversation can be recorded.
The price of White Noise Generators starts by €20. There are some websites that generate background noises, too.
Wireless Connection Detector
These gadgets can detect wireless connections. In modern homes there are so many devices that communicate over wireless networks. So it’s difficult to find a bad connection.
Such gadgets can be bought for €200.
Cameras and GPS tracker are the gadgets that can use everybody. These gadgets are used mostly by parents that want to ‘protect’ their children or by jealous partner.
The most spy gadgets are not design to spy, some people discover ways to use them as spy gadgets. Therefore, to use these gadgets you need a great amount of knowledge. Really dangerous is it when somebody knows how thy can combine the gadgets.
Today these gadgets are not that much in yous because it is mostly easier to hack the smartphone.