Some owners on the Airbnb platform equip their apartment or house with spy cameras. If you are renting a property on Airbnb to enjoy your vacation, follow these few steps to verify that there is no spy camera.

Spy cameras in properties offered on Airbnb, really?

Some platform users Airbnb were unpleasantly surprised to find that the accommodation they rented was equipped with spy camera.

Of course, the owner had done well to warn them.

Why do some owners equip their housing with a camera? And how were tenants able to detect them?

Wireless surveillance camera.
Several Airbnb users have had the unpleasant surprise to discover hidden cameras in their accommodation, without having been warned beforehand. (Photo Alan J. Hendry / Unsplash)

The Terms of use of the Airbnb service are clear on this point:

  • if a host has surveillance or recording equipment (security camera, etc.), he or she has an obligation to warn travelers of this
  • all cameras are strictly prohibited in private spaces (bathroom, bedroom, etc.)

The problem is that not all hosts necessarily warn of the presence of such a camera. In the majority of cases, there are no malicious intentions: the hosts wish to reassure themselves by being able to keep an eye on their accommodation, but do not indicate it because this would risk penalizing the attractiveness of their offer.

It should be noted that the cases encountered remain low for the moment, but the platform had to manage media cases. In particular, we remember in April 2019, that a New Zealand family found a camera hidden in their home, in a fake smoke detector placed a few meters from a real smoke detector.

How to detect a camera in my Airbnb home?

Be aware that there is no comprehensive method to find a hidden camera. However, a few actions can limit the risks.

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Scan the Airbnb home wifi network

One of the main methods is to look at the devices connected to the wifi network, if you have access to it and you think it is secure to connect to it.

To do this, I recommend that you use Glasswire for pc. This utility allows the base to monitor network connections on its PC. It is interesting from a computer security point of view, and I will write about it on occasion.

Glasswire also has a feature for detect all devices connected on the network used. All you have to do is go to the “Things” tab, run a scan, and wait for the result.

Glasswire is available for free with reduced functionality. The Things tab is part of the paid version, but you will get a free 7-day trial after installation.

The list of devices connected to your Airbnb home’s wifi network will then be displayed.

Functionality
Glasswire’s “Things” tab will show you the different devices connected to the network, as well as their brand. (Image Glasswire)

In the Info column, Glasswire will bring you items when it recognizes the device, giving you the manufacturer, the model, etc.

You can then analyze the results with a critical eye, if you recognize the names of surveillance camera brands, like Netatmo, Nest, Netgear, Ring, etc. (this list is far from exhaustive). Of course, these brands have other connected objects, and you will have to sort it out.

You can also compare the results with another WiFi network analyzer, for example Bitdefender Home Scanner.

Bitdefender Home Scanner is completely free, and is offered by the computer security publisher of the same name. Its primary objective is to detect possible security breaches in connected objects.

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Here, we bypass its use a little, because what interests us is the list of devices connected to the network:

  • network scan is a bit slower than Glasswire, because the tool also assesses security risks on these devices
  • the risk assessment indicated on the right should therefore not be taken into account.
  • on the other hand, Bitdefender Home Scanner presents a pictogram on the left when it recognizes a device, it will help you detect any camera
Bitdefender Home Scanner is another tool for scanning devices on a wifi network, looking for spy cameras.
Another possible tool for scanning devices on the wifi network is Bitdefender Home Scanner. We will look at the list of equipment in search of any camera. The pictograms on the left can help with identification. (Bitdefender Image)

What if you don’t have a PC with you? No problem, use a smartphone app, such as Fing available on Android and ios.

The Fing application allows you to scan devices on the network directly from your smartphone, looking for any hidden cameras in your Airbnb guest room.
The Fing smartphone app (Android and iOS) also allows you to search for devices connected to the network. (Image Fing)

Use your sense of observation

No method is unstoppable. The wifi network scan may not find the camera, especially if it is not not connected to the same network, or if you have unknown devices in the scan.

Camera lens.
Look for suspicious items or items that don’t seem out of place in the home. (Photo Msporch / Pixabay)

Call on your critical sense and observation, in search of’suspicious objects, or which do not seem out of place in the accommodation.

For example, in one of the high profile cases, the camera was found because 2 smoke detectors were present in the same room (one was a real one, the other had a camera).

In another high profile case, people identified something suspect with the clock radio. It was connected to a cable that seemed out of place.

There are plenty of places a camera can be hidden, and it’s impossible to list all of them.

Look for something that looks like a lens similar to a smartphone’s camera. (Photo Bernard Hermant / Unsplash)

In case of suspicious objects, look on that object for something that looks like a lens, somewhat similar to your smartphone camera. If necessary, you can put the room in the dark and light it with the flashlight of your smartphone, to see if there is any light is reflected on a lens.

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If in doubt, you can also make a research on the Internet. Try to find the make of the object, or the name of the model. And check the internet if it could be a spy camera.

You will always be able to hide the object, for example by throwing a piece of clothing over it in case of doubt.

Invest in a radio frequency (RF) signal detector

For the more paranoid, you can always invest in a RF signal detector .

The wireless, bluetooth or wifi cameras, must in fact issue a RF signal. With a radio-frequency detector, you will then be able to know whether the suspicious object is indeed emitting a signal or not. However, I never had the opportunity to test.

And you, have you ever faced the problem? Do you have any other tips for detecting a camera in an Airbnb accommodation or a guesthouse? Tell us in the comments!

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