Security News

Ever feel like you’re being watched?

Avast Security News Team, 11 April 2019

A vacationing family were shocked to discover a hidden camera in their Airbnb — learn the traveler’s best defense against such sneakiness.

The Barker family left New Zealand for a 14-month tour of Europe, scheduling a string of accommodations that included several Airbnb stays. Fortunately, Mr. Barker is an IT specialist and understands there are constant forces at work trying to hack into anything that is remotely hackable. Like old settlers would set a perimeter around their campsite for the night, Mr. Barker ran a routine Wi-Fi network scan of the house his family had rented. The scan detected a hidden camera live streaming his family’s stay.

Because they could see the actual feed, they found the camera hidden in what seemed to be a carbon monoxide or smoke detector. The family reports having a frustrating time getting Airbnb to show any concern for the situation. It was only when Mrs. Barker posted about it on Facebook and local New Zealand news stations began picking up the story that Airbnb took a stance against the renter, banning the account.

This hidden surveillance was discovered only because Mr. Barker is in the IT world. Imagine the number of Airbnb renters throughout the world who do not think to scan Wi-Fi networks for any unknown connected devices — would you be one of them? Today’s cybersecurity requires much more than scanning for malware. You need a utility belt of tools that would make Batman envious. This is why we created Avast Free Antivirus, to give users everywhere all the basic building blocks to a cyberdefense.

Wi-Fi Inspector is one of the tools in Avast Free Antivirus, and it performs a similar scan that Mr. Barker did on the rental’s Wi-Fi network. Wi-Fi Inspector scans the router and looks at every connection going out to the internet and coming in from the internet. It issues a report on all of them, citing any vulnerabilities it finds. While a surveillance camera would not be categorized as a vulnerability, the device would be listed on the report along with all other connected entities. This has become essential security for the average household, and it’s smart security for travelers. With Avast Free Antivirus installed on your laptop, you can scan any Wi-Fi network to which you’re connected.  In a similar situation that the Barker’s found themselves in, you could contact the house host and find out more information if you find devices like cameras on the Wi-Fi network of your rental.

“Wi-Fi Inspector is one of my favorite tools,” says Avast security evangelist Luis Corrons. “Not only does it list all the devices connected to the network, but it lets you know if the software in any of the devices is vulnerable or if there are weak passwords that have to be changed.”

Download Avast Free Antivirus right now to get the utility belt of protection.

Download Avast Free Antivirus

If you already have Avast Free Antivirus and would like to activate Wi-Fi Inspector, just follow these simple steps:

  1. Open Avast Free Antivirus

  2. Click Protection on the left side of the screen

  3. Select Wi-Fi Inspector

  4. Click the Home option, to scan your home network for vulnerabilities, or click the Public option to scan a public network.