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…


About the Author:

I am a cybersecurity and IT instructor, cybersecurity analyst, pen-tester, trainer, and speaker. I am an owner of the WyzCo Group Inc. In addition to consulting on security products and services, I also conduct security audits, compliance audits, vulnerability assessments and penetration tests. I also teach Cybersecurity Awareness Training classes. I work as an information technology and cybersecurity instructor for several training and certification organizations. I have worked in corporate, military, government, and workforce development training environments I am a frequent speaker at professional conferences such as the Minnesota Bloggers Conference, Secure360 Security Conference in 2016, 2017, 2018, 2019, the (ISC)2 World Congress 2016, and the ISSA International Conference 2017, and many local community organizations, including Chambers of Commerce, SCORE, and several school districts. I have been blogging on cybersecurity since 2006 at http://wyzguyscybersecurity.com

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