The rich and powerful often own or charter luxury yachts for their enjoyment as well as the enjoyment of their equally rich and powerful friends and associates. Everyone on board is there for a relaxing day in the sun or to enjoy a weekend or longer vacation. Guests on board could be well-known celebrities, political leaders, titans of industry, and/or media moguls who all naturally assume their privacy will be respected. It never occurs to them that there might be audio taping equipment installed on board that could invade their private conversations and activities. What if these audiotapes were made available to the press or to other interested parties? How much “ransom” could be asked for such tapes?
These are the risks people take when they go aboard a yacht, whether they’re the owners, the owner’s guests or if they are chartering the vessel. Bugging people in their private quarters with listening devices is an all too common practice. These devices have been found in offices, homes and even cars. Law enforcement is legally allowed to do this when they have a court order. However, there are plenty of unsavoury characters known as “electronic mercenaries” who ignore laws and are simply seeking information that they have no right to have. They’ll sell the information to the highest bidder, or try to blackmail the individuals on the recordings hoping to extort as much money as they can to keep the information private.
If someone wants to install a listening device on a yacht, there are plenty of opportunities. It can be done by a member of the crew, by someone hired to come on board to repair a piece of equipment, and it can even be done when the ship is in dry dock at a shipyard. Someone can actually come on board saying they are the police, dressed in what looks like an authentic uniform with an ID that appears totally legitimate. They could “search” the boat and while doing so illegally install wiretaps.
People who are determined to snoop on others go about this very carefully. They would put the yacht under surveillance to learn the crew’s daily routine and whether they are following any security measures. They would be looking at who delivers the food or any other provisions. This would all be done by an entire team of individuals, each with a different task, just waiting for their opportunity to install listening devices. In addition, there would be an entirely different team who would be listening to all the tapes trying to decipher all the information to find something of importance. This takes a huge amount of time when you think about 24 hours a day for how many different listening devices in all their locations and for how many days in total this could possibly come to.
Even privately owned yachts are put up for charter when not in use by the owners due to the enormous cost of running a yacht. When someone charters a yacht they are not subject to a background check. If they can pay anywhere from $10,000 to $35,000 per day, they can come on-board with all their luggage and God knows what else. This leaves anyone and everyone who goes on-board this yacht in the future at risk for being blackmailed or having their private conversations, activities and information go up for grabs to the highest bidder.
If the owner of a yacht has a competitor in business (and who doesn’t?) and if a certain competitor wants to find out what the next new innovation might be or what merger may be taking place, or what discovery or transaction might affect a given stock price in the future, they could easily charter their competitor’s yacht and install listening devices. These could be installed in all the staterooms, the office, the main cabin, the dining area, the aft deck and foredeck as well as in all communication systems on board. They could also sabotage the electronic systems on board to disable the vessel and even plant explosive devices that could be triggered remotely at some later date. It would be very difficult to later determine who did this or when it was done.
This is the danger people innocently place themselves in when going on board their own yacht, those of a friend or business associate or when they charter a yacht for what they think will be a nice vacation. Although these superyachts provide all the luxury anyone could dream of for a vacation, a yacht is in fact an extremely vulnerable place to be for anyone, but especially high-profile people of great wealth and influence.
At Mias Consultants we conduct security searches for our clients throughout the UK and Europe we use the same principles in security searches as we do our countermeasures sweeps utilizing different backgrounds and experience with every sweep team member when we sweep a property be it a private home to a large corporate headquarters we have an electrical engineer, a telephone engineer and network engineer as part of the sweep team
If we conduct a sweep on a motor vehicle at least one technician will be a qualified auto electrical engineer on planes our team leader is a full qualified aero engineer with British Airways and the same is for yachts we will not conduct a sweep without our fully qualified marine engineer.
We offer our clients a whole range of security products to protect our client’s privacy from encrypted communications to our new anti-drone equipment protecting their privacy from paparazzi and other voyeurs.