Hidden Web Cams in Airbnb Rentals and Hotel Rooms?

If you are traveling for the holidays, here is something else to watch for – the hidden web camera.  If you are staying at an Airbnb, or even a traditional hotel or motel over the holidays, be aware that there have been incidents where web cams have been found in the rooms.  Often they are disguised as other devices, such as the “motion detector” web cam that was found in one Airbnb.

Cameras can hidden as nanny cams, smoke alarms, motion detectors, light bulbs, alarm clocks, wall clocks, teddy bears, air fresheners, picture frames, wall outlets, or small devices plugged into USB ports.

As far as detecting these devices yourself, you have to look for anything odd with a good line of sight to where you would most likely be.  Tiny holes are often a tip off.  You can disable most cameras by placing a small piece of masking tape over the lens, but this won’t automatically defeat a hidden microphone.

If you actually find a hidden camera, you can:

  • Report it to the police.  This sort of surveillance is illegal.
  • Take a picture of the device for evidence
  • Take a picture of the room, and where the camera was located.
  • If you are staying at an Airbnb, report it to Airbnb.  This is a violation of their terms of service.
  • Find another place to stay.

More information:

  • Naked Security (an often cited blog resource, but an oddly ironic name in the context of this story.)
  • Hotel Insecurity
    We haven’t looked at the sorry state of hotel security for a while, but we have done articles on hotel locks, and hotel business center computers before.  The Naked Security blog recently published a story about the Russian hacker collective known as Fancy Bear, and their involvement in the…
  • Keyloggers Found on Many Hotel Business Center Computers
    Bad news business and vacation travelers, those free computers that are in many hotel business centers have been infected with keylogger malware.  This means that whatever you are typing while sitting at one of these publicly accessible computers is being sent to a cyber-criminal somewhere.…
  • Hotel Locks Easily Hacked
    As someone always travels with a laptop, smartphone, and other expensive toys, and who spends a bit of time staying in hotels from time to time, I am always reluctant to leave my trove in the room, usually opting to take my laptop with me and keep it locked in the car truck (like that is really more…

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About the Author:

Cybersecurity guru to business owners in the St Paul, Minneapolis, and western Wisconsin area. Computer security and hacking have been a passion of mine since I entered the computer and networking business in 2000. In 2013 I completed a course of study and certification exam to become a Certified Ethical Hacker (CEH). In 2016 I was certified as a Certified Information Systems Security Professional (CISSP). As Cybersecurity Analyst at The WyzCo Group, I help our clients experience high levels of computer security, network security, and web site security. In addition to consulting on security products and services, we also conduct security audits, vulnerability assessments and full penetration tests. We also provide Cybersecurity Awareness Training for clients and their employees. We also work with companies and organizations that need to certify compliance with regulations such as PCI-DSS (credit card processing), HIPAA/HITECH (medical records), and GLBA. The views expressed on this Web site are mine alone and do not necessarily represent the views of my employer.

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