HOW TO DETERMINE if your Airbnb accommodation has secret cameras

HOW TO DETERMINE if your Airbnb accommodation has secret cameras

NordenBladet – Security professionals share their knowledge on how to understand if there are secret cameras installed in the accommodation and how to protect yourself if you suspect you are being monitored.

When Nealie and Andrew Barker and their five children checked into a house through home-rental service Airbnb in March, they soon made an unsettling discovery that interrupted their European vacation. “We just found a camera hidden in a smoke alarm case in the private living room of a listing. We were traveling with children,” Nealie Barker wrote in a Facebook post. “The host admitted to the concealed camera over the phone only after presented with our irrefutable proof.“

Multiple Airbnb travelers have reported finding hidden cameras in their vacation rentals. Under Airbnb rules, hosts must disclose if they are actively recording on the property, and hosts are not allowed to use surveillance devices in bedrooms and bathrooms, even if they do disclose it. But what about the cameras that are not being disclosed?

Here are some sensible things you can do to make sure you are not being secretly watched during your Airbnb stay, according to security experts.

1. Look for objects out of place
Look for things in unusual places, said Carrie Kerskie, the CEO of Griffon Force, a Florida-based group that advises clients on identity theft and personal privacy concerns, like hidden cameras. “If you see a smoke detector in a place that looks kind of odd, if there are two of them kind of right next to each other, that could be a red flag,” Kerskie said.

2. Shine a light to pick up the reflection of lenses
One easy practice is turning off the lights in a room and using a light to slowly scan where you suspect a camera may be. “[Cameras] have a lens that is like glass,” Kerskie said. “If you’re looking at a clock radio that is next to the bed and you see an unusual spot that’s reflecting more than just the surface of it, that could be a sign.”

“If you turn off the lights and shine a [light] over a suspected device, you will most likely get a reflection off the lens,” said Andrew Barker, who found the hidden camera in his family’s Airbnb rental. “It is helpful but could also create false positives where something shiny in the device gives off a reflection and it isn’t actually a hidden camera.”

3. Scan the Wi-Fi network
This is how Barker, who works as an IT consultant, said he discovered the hidden camera in his family’s Airbnb rental. On his travel blog, he outlined how renters can use a network scanner app that will list the devices that are connected on the network, along with their IP addresses and their manufacturers. In Barker’s case, his suspicions were aroused when a manufacturer was named “IPCAMERA.”

Of course, if the hidden camera is being powered by a private network that you do not have access to use, a scan of your host’s Wi-Fi network will not pick it up. Understanding that not every hidden camera operates the same is part of the security challenge.

4. Unplug and cover your suspicions
If you suspect you’re being watched but can’t confirm it, one simple low-tech, low-cost solution to this anxiety is covering up objects of concern. “If you have suspicions about something in the room, like, for example, an alarm clock, it’s very simple to take a piece of clothing out of your suitcase and drape it over the alarm clock,” Plaxe said. “If there’s a lens there, it’s not going to capture any images of you with your T-shirt sitting over it.”

You can also unplug objects that do not need to be plugged in. Some hidden cameras need a plugged-in power source to function.

Featured image: Pexels


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