AirBnB can be a great service for budget travelers trying to avoid low-rent motels and shady deals, but that doesn’t mean you can let your guard down. WiFi is becoming so predominant a service that a lot of people are taking it for granted … and they are taking their security for granted as well.
It’s not just that suspect WiFi could put you at a direct security risk, it’s also possible that a previous tenant’s reckless behavior could leave you vulnerable to problems.
It’s not something that people really want to think about, but there are countless black hat hackers out there who could easily set up software or in other ways compromise WiFi so they could gain access to or spy on future guests. All it takes is a quick reset and to engage the remote access feature on the router.
This easy access can leave travelers specifically vulnerable. It’s not something folks like thinking about, but the reality is there nonetheless. Here are a few ways to counteract potential issues:
Don’t just go in without adding protection to your system. Use VPN, or bypass that network altogether and use your smartphone as a hotspot. That way you’re generating your own WiFi and have no need to put yourself at risk.
And there are a few “don’ts” as well. Never engage in online banking while using WiFi in this sort of situation. You need a familiar, closed network to do anything financial or personal. In other words, if you don’t want an unknown number of strangers with potentially nefarious intent to see what you’re up to, don’t do it.
Folks take this sort of protection for granted in public places like libraries and coffee shops, but they’re less likely to think about that sort of thing in a private home. And that letting down of your guard is the inherent danger connected with AirBnB. Yes, you’re in a person’s living room, but you have no idea who may have been there yesterday.
Ronn Torossian is a PR maverick and the CEO of 5W PR in NYC.