Summer vacations are just around the corner, as a frequent traveler, I love to experience the culture of the communities that I visit. Like millions of others, I now use Airbnb more often than not, which for my family of four offers excellent advantages over a hotel including more space, full kitchens, and better amenities, all of that at a reasonable cost. However, before you leave your home this vacation period, the security experts from Adaware have prepared a 2 part blog series on how to keep you safe and secure when you stay at an Airbnb.
Although there are a number of key precautions that users should be aware of when travelling to an Airbnb in these articles we will focus on two. In this first of these articles, we will give you tips and insights on how to keep your online presence safe. In the second part, we will give you ideas on how to avoid hidden cameras.
So what is Airbnb?
Airbnb is an online marketplace rental platform which lets people rent out their properties or spare rooms to guests. Airbnb takes 3% commission of every booking from hosts, and between 6% and 12% from guests.
Since the company launched in 2009, it’s grown from helping only 21,000 guests a year find a place to stay to helping over six million a year, and currently lists a staggering 800,000 properties in 34,000 cities across 90 different countries.
Protecting your online presence at an Airbnb
We all have become accustomed to going onto the Internet whenever we want, and when we stay at an Airbnb, it is the same. Most hosts offer free WiFi for guests, and while this makes travel a lot easier, guests should always be wary about ensuring that their data, identity and confidential information remains secure.
Unless your data is encrypted and sharing is turned off hackers or unscrupulous hosts are free to rifle through all of the data on your device or whatever is passing through your connection. Even without hacking, anyone logged in to the same network can see things you have shared, like holiday photos, spreadsheets, documents, PDFs, music, and videos.
The security experts at adaware recommend the following:
- Take the same precautions at your Airbnb as you would with any potentially hazardous public WiFi
- If possible use a Virtual Private Network. A VPN encrypts traffic data, making it far more challenging to sniff.
- Change the passwords for your online banking or any sensitive information you accessed on your Airbnb WiFi.
- There’s no guarantee that the person who set up the Wi-Fi network turned on all the security features, so always be vigilant.
- If you need to access credit card information, use a virtual credit card
- If you do go online, make sure the URL of the website you’re visiting starts with “HTTPS” because the “S” stands for secure, and data is encrypted.
- Avoid logging in to any online accounts that store any of your sensitive information
Payments should only be made through Airbnb
- Online payments should never be made outside the Airbnb app.
- Use a virtual credit card when making any online purchases. A virtual credit card puts an extra layer of protection between you and the world of online fraud, identity theft, and hacking. If a fraudster steals your virtual credit card number, it will never compromise your actual physical credit card account.
- Be careful of spoofed emails and malicious websites pretending to be Airbnb or the host. A good anti-malware solution will help to keep you safe from fraudulent websites.
In the next article, we will go in-depth to give you several tips to help you stay safe from hidden cameras and review the new policies from Airbnb