UPDATED February 10, 2022 This piece has been updated to reflect the emergence of new technology

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Christian Mathews Security Writer

The term counter surveillance sounds very ominous and mysterious. But it is something that has become commonplace in our lives. Every day, we have cameras and microphones catching our every move, with tracking devices present in unlikely places and things. Many wonder what do tracking devices look like.

In this digital age, countersurveillance measures are increasingly dependent on technology. From hidden cameras and wiretaps to phone tracking apps, there are many ways to know if you are being watched, your behavior being tracked, or vice versa. Read along to know all about countersurveillance and how it is being used in our daily lives.

1Different Devices For Different Uses

Counter surveillance requires one to use different devices for different purposes. This includes cameras, mikes, wiretaps, audio jammers detectors, and so on. Anyone serious about counter surveillance needs to have a proper arsenal of equipment and learn how to use each item effectively.

2How Does A Tracking Device Work?

Many ask how does a GPS tracker work. A tracking device is mainly used to record where a person is going in the minutest detail. With a tracking device, people can track and retrace the locations visited by a person and possibly track the daily habits of a person. Tracking devices make it very easy for the spy to predict the behaviors of the person under surveillance. Knowing what do tracking devices look like, may help you in removing those unwanted devices.

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While tracking devices are infamous for being used for unsavory purposes, these days, they are being used in commercial products that track a multitude of behaviors. Here is a list of such everyday items.

Personal/Child Safety

Tracking devices have made modern-day parenting easy. With wearable trackers, busy parents can easily track where and what their children are up to.


The 21st century probably has the smartest watches built by humankind. With digital smartwatches, we can now track almost every human behavior important for life, from sleep, work to fitness. Smartwatches like Apple Watch and Fitbit are perfect examples of watches being used to track and collect health and fitness data. These watches are sophisticated pieces of machinery that can track everything you do – from when you wake up to sleep – and give you suggestions to optimize your life.


Tags imply tiny devices or inserts that are most commonly used to track pets. Often, rescue animals are tagged so that all their information can be electronically stored and their location is tracked at all times. Therefore, if a pet is lost and subsequently found by someone, they can use the tag to find out information about the animal and return it to its rightful owner.

3Vehicle Tracking

GPS tracking technology is increasingly being used in cars. There are many reasons people install GPS trackers inside their vehicles, the most prominent being to keep their car safe from theft. A car fitted with a tracking device can be tracked down easily if it is ever stolen.

Tracking devices are also used in cars driven by multiple people. It can help everyone know who or where the car is being used. Finally, vehicle tracking devices are also used by taxi services to keep track of their drivers and where the vehicle is being driven.

Knowing what do tracking devices look like, will help you find where a GPS tracking device is installed on a car that you did not authorize to have installed in your vehicle.


OBD GPS trackers are most commonly used in vehicles. These trackers can be used in cars manufactured after 1996, making them a popular option among many car owners. OBD trackers track the vehicle’s location, observe risky driving behaviors, and protect the car from being stolen.


As the name suggests, hardwired GPS trackers are wired to the car. The tracker needs to be connected to the car’s electrical system for it to work. These are generally professionally installed.

Experts suggest that hardwired GPS tracking systems are among the best and most reliable systems to be installed in your car. They are tamper-proof and have a better connection as they are attached to the vehicle’s main battery system. They also last for a very long time.

The hardwire GPS tracking system is often connected to the car’s alarm system and ignition set up to track and alert the owner of the vehicle if the car is being broken into by someone.  


Portable GPS trackers are a counterpart to hardwire trackers. They represent the opposite end of the spectrum when it comes to vehicular GPS devices. As the name suggests, portable devices are extremely easy to install and don’t require any professional assistance.

Portable GPS trackers don’t need to be connected to the car battery to work. They rely on their internal battery supply to work. They are typically installed below the dashboard. Portable trackers are great for people who are looking for immediate use.

However, there are some safety concerns with portable GPS trackers, especially in cars. Since portable trackers are easy to install, they are easy to remove as well. This compromises the integrity and security of the tracking installed.

4Cell Phone Tracking Apps

These apps are possibly the most useful in the mobile software industry. With cell phone tracking apps, you can easily track your phone if it gets lost or stolen. Phone tracking apps work if your phone is online and connected either to the internet or GPS.

Most phones come with an inbuilt phone tracking system that tracks the phone remotely via their computers. This feature has proved very useful when people have had their phones stolen or snatched in busy areas.

Overall, tracking systems are being used practically everywhere to keep people safe and collect data that can potentially make life better. However, it is prudent to bear in mind that tracking devices should be used cautiously as they can easily be used to harm or harass people.

We hope that you learned all about different tracking devices and what do tracking devices look like with this handy guide.