Could Your Airbnb Be Spying On You?


Airbnbs have made travel a bit more accessible to those working on a tighter budget than a hotel allows. Given the popularity of the platform, most of us don’t think twice about renting out a home or apartment for our vacation. While Airbnbs are generally safe, there has been a recent uptick of guests finding hidden cameras within their rental units. Most of the time, these hidden cameras are on and recording without their knowledge.

While Airbnb does state that hosts with security cameras must divulge their existence in the “amenities” category, many do not abide by this rule, especially in foreign countries. Some guests even reported finding cameras hidden in smoke detectors. How can you know whether or not your Airbnb is holding a sinister secret in the form of a hidden camera? With the use of an IP scanner.

What is an IP Scanner?

As the name implies, an IP scanner is a tool that scans for IP addresses and other information about any device on a given network. In a nutshell, it scans whatever network you are on for devices and offers information relevant to those devices. It is useful in the field of networking, but equally as useful when you’re trying to determine if there are any sinister devices on a given Wifi network in an Airbnb. IP scanners can provide IP addresses, MAC addresses, vendors, operating systems, open ports, the status of ports, and descriptions.

How can an IP scanner help to find a hidden camera?

As soon as you arrive at your Airbnb, connect to the Wi-Fi, and then download a network IP scanner tool. They are available in the form of downloadable software or as an application that can be used on your phone. You can use the scanner in one of two ways: as a network scanner or as a network mapper. Network scans will allow you to view the IP addresses and manufacturers of the devices connected to the Wi-Fi network.

Generally, this will bring up any hidden recording devices found in the living area. Often times, they will show up on the scan as “IPCAMERA” or “WIFICAMERA.” Take note of any listed devices and then work backward from there. Tick off any device found through the scan that you can physically see. If a device seems suspicious, run a port scan and identify the item’s purpose. A port scan will list the different ports for connecting to the device and the services each device provides.

Each service will be listed as “shortcodes.” You’ll probably have to implement a brief Google search inquiry to reveal what each code means. For example, a code such as RTMP might come up, which would imply that a device is used for video streaming. Keep in mind network scans and IP scanners will only work if the device you are on and the hidden camera are both connected to the same Wi-Fi network. If the camera is on a different network, you might not be able to find it.

The Takeaway

Most Airbnbs are safe and reliable places to spend your vacations. However, if you suspect that a room or home could have hidden recording devices, a simple network or IP scan can help you to reveal their existence.