The rent-your-room service of Airbnb has become an internet phenomenon, with many travelers forgoing fancy hotels or slumming it in hostels in favor of staying in the comfort of home, while away from home.
It’s clear to see why, too, because staying at an Airbnb place when you’re traveling means a little more coziness, all the modcons you’d miss in a hotel, and access to that all-important stable, unshared Wi-Fi connection. But that Wi-Fi connection is regularly being shared with strangers and so – whether you’re a guest or the host – Airbnb internet isn’t nearly as safe as it might feel.
Protecting Airbnb Wi-Fi as a Guest
With all that comfort, it’s far too easy to fall into a false sense of security. Many might think that since there’s a password protecting the Wi-Fi, it’s secure, but there’s no way of knowing just who has been connected to the device nor how your internet usage is being monitored. As such, Airbnb guests should take these steps for true security:
Use a VPN
A virtual private network is the most important tool of the modern era – especially for travellers – since a VPN will enshroud your internet connection by encrypting the data transferred from your computer through the router and over to the servers you’re connecting to when browsing the web. Using one of these is imperative when connected to an Airbnb’s Wi-Fi since it’ll block any sort of data tracking from that network.
A VPN will do practically all of the heavy lifting when it comes to your personal security on an Airbnb connection, but it’s also worth considering enabling two-factor authentication. Should the worst come to worst and your account details have been sniffed, 2FA will give you an added layer of defense to stop an attacker from gaining access to your accounts. It’s actually a solid idea to activate this on any account that includes it.
Use Data Plan for Sensitive Data
It’s always better to be safe than sorry and while a good VPN like CyberGhost shouldn’t ever fail, there are times – whether through new threats, insufficient DNS protection, or just user mishap – that your details manage to slip through the digital cracks. In that sense, it’s wise to always restrict how you access highly sensitive information like bank accounts to solely through your mobile data plan.
Setting up Wi-Fi as a Host
Things are a little different as an Airbnb host because while you certainly do want to protect yourself from potential attacks initiated by your guests, you also want to ensure that those honest visitors are kept safe, too. As an Airbnb host, you must definitely follow these actions:
Change the Default Router Credentials
The very basic should be to go into your router’s settings and change the details. Renaming the connection is a start since it’ll be more helpful for your guests, but for security purposes creating a strong password is imperative. Changing this password after each guest is a smart idea, too, since it effectively blocks any previous access.
Create an Encrypted Guest Wi-Fi
While you could just buy another router and secure that as guest-only access, it’s perhaps more effective to set up a virtual network within your existing router to essentially split it into two connections. With this your guests will only be able to access the secondary connection and won’t be able to pry on any of the details of your own internet sessions.
This is perhaps the area where most of us slip up, since it’s far too easy to just click ‘Remind me later…’ on updates. But this isn’t just some new version of a game on your phone, this concerns your router’s security and routinely ensuring that the latest firmware is installed will see the hardware’s defences in tip-top shape. Manually resetting your router often will also ensure that any potential malware or threat that might have been installed will be flushed out.
Store Your Router Securely
All this protection would be for nothing if a wily guest intent on taking over your network could just hit the reset button – literally – on the physical network device. Keep your router out of sight, as safely hidden and access-restricted as possible. If you get regular Airbnb visitors, spare no expense; physically securing it with a protective case will ensure no-one will have unwanted access to the hardware.
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