I travel quite a bit to speak on technology/cyber security and I'm always worried that somebody is watching me with a hidden camera. Call it paranoid or thinking I'm James Bond when I travel. When you think of hidden cameras, you probably think of the latest spy movies, but because of technology hidden cameras are becoming more common and can be set up by anyone. These devices can possibly be set up anywhere you stay from your home, rented apartments, hotel rooms, even your office, and that Airbnb you're staying in this spring or summer. In today's Internet-connected world, you never know who might be spying on you and your family. Here are some quick and easy tips to help you find hidden cameras where you're staying as well as other tips to stay safe.
I'm by no means a celebrity, but for even the average person you should be worried about wifi cameras. The good news is that cameras are pretty inexpensive and they can connect to any Wi-Fi connection which allows anyone who has a smartphone and the camera app to monitor homes and offices. There are property owners who use them to protect from damage or theft which makes wifi cameras a great thing. On the flip side, you could have an abusive partner a prankster, or an extortionist who will take advantage of this technology. Much like AirTags have been transformed by abusers to track your movements, people will pervert tech to take advantage of you. You might think it's fiction, but a recent survey of Airbnb users showed that 11% of people who have stayed at one have come across a hidden camera. What's even worse, wifi cameras can be as small as 2 millimeters.
How can you detect hidden cameras?
Use the old fashion method of physically checking your surroundings. When you stay in a new place put your detective hat on. I always open drawers, look at lamps and paintings just like in the spy movies and I suggest you do the same any place you stay. Are there holes in the wall? Are there objects pointed at the bed? Strange things in the bathroom that don't belong? If you're looking for that red light identifier of a camera, you won't find it. The purpose of small wifi cameras is to stay hidden.
Use your smartphone.
You know you can ditch any special equipment and use your smartphone camera and the built-in flashlight. To use this trick it has to be dark so turn off the lights and close the curtains. Point your smartphone where you think the hidden camera is and you should see a glare on the screen of your smartphone. Sometimes your smartphone won't let you use the flashlight, which means you will have to use a separate flashlight. Also, there are brands of spy cameras that use infrared to record in the dark. If you use your smartphone camera in the dark to find an infrared camera, it should show up as a pulsing dot.
What to do if you detect a hidden camera.
Truth be told, webcam spying isn't going to occur when you're staying in larger hotel chains. If you find something that looks like a camera, take a photo of it and do an image search to verify it is indeed a camera. If it is indeed a camera, contact the local authorities, the administrator of the place you're staying. Most places have rules against hidden cameras. I know it sounds obvious, but it's best if you leave the property immediately.
It's always better to be safe than sorry.
I've given you tips to make sure you don't fall victim to a prankster or a landlord who may be filming you without permission. Whenever you're on the road for business or personal, there are more dangers than hidden cameras. Here are some tips to help you stay safe whenever you're in unfamiliar surroundings:
Keep your smartphone charged all of the time.
Turn on Find My Device to help locate lost devices and you.
A smartwatch that is the same brand as your phone can help you keep connected to your devices.
Download travel apps to help your trip go more smoothly, such as maps, dictionaries, and translators.
Don’t leave valuable devices such as smartphones, tablets, and computers unattended.
Never use public computers or terminals for private messaging, logging in to accounts, or online shopping. This includes computers that may be at an AirBnB.
Use your own hotspot to surf the web. If you don't have access to one, Use a VPN to protect your data from hackers and from prying eyes.
Cover that peephole. There is technology such as 'peephole reversers' that can be used to film in your room.
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