If you have ever used a platform such as Airbnb and the like to rent a flat for a few days, surely you have wondered if the owner does not have a hidden surveillance camera installed between the furniture. It’s not a far-fetched idea: according to a 2019 survey of more than 2,000 Airbnb customers, 1 in 10 users have found hidden cameras in their accommodations .
The truth is that Airbnb does allow the installation of security cameras by hosts, although they must notify guests in advance . Likewise, the placement of recording devices in private areas such as bedrooms and bathrooms is completely prohibited. That said, it is clear that many homeowners do not comply with the regulations. So what can we do as users to check if our apartment has a camera?
Of course, this can be extrapolated to any other environment, such as the possibility that there is a camera in our work office or in other places such as hotels, bathrooms or changing rooms, to give just a few examples.
How to scan a Wi-Fi network for connected hidden cameras
In general, and following the example of Airbnb, many apartments and houses that are rented online through apps and platforms of this type usually include a free Wi-Fi connection (essential if they want to receive good reviews). This is something that we can take advantage of in our favor by using an app called Fing, available for Android and iOS.
Fing – Network Scanner
Developer: Fing Limited
With this free application we can scan the Wi-Fi network of the flat and see all the devices that are connected, including the surveillance cameras . To make the trick easier to carry out, it is recommended that we disconnect the rest of the mobile phones, tablets, PCs and other devices that we may have connected at that time.
To launch the scan, just click on the “refresh” button located in the upper right corner of the screen. Before starting the analysis, the app may ask us for permissions to establish our location. We give it to them and we move on.
The good thing about Fing is that it not only detects the IP and MAC address of all devices connected to the same Wi-Fi network: it is also capable of identifying the manufacturer and even the type of device (smartphone, streaming dongle, router, game console , etc). Therefore, once we have the results, all we have to do is look for anything that bears the name of manufacturers such as Nest, Arlo, Wyze, Duratech, Victure, Sricam, Supereye or that is listed as “IP Camera”, “Webcam” and the like.
Even if we do not find any identified cameras on the list, it is recommended that we count the number of devices that appear connected and see if it fits with reality or there are any “surprise guests”. If we find a suspicious element, we will write down the IP address and go to the next step.
Look for open ports
What we will do next is to click on the ” Network ” menu in Fing, and from there we will select the option ” Find open ports “. This will take us to a new screen where we will enter the IP address of the “suspicious” device that we just noted in the previous step. We hit the blue search button and wait for the results.
Once the analysis is completed, Fing will show us a list of the ports that are open on that device, as well as the services they use. This time we will have to look for RTSP and RTMP, which are the usual protocols used for video transmission.
Likewise, any port that has HTTP or HTTPS services enabled will allow us to directly access the video transmission from a web browser. To do this, we just have to write the IP address in the address bar of the browser followed by a colon and the port number, such as ” 126.96.36.199:80 “.
How to detect hidden cameras with night vision
Unfortunately, the camera may not be connected to the same Wi-Fi network that we use. Or it may even be that the results obtained with Fing did not help us to get a strong answer. In that case, it is best to look for infrared lights in the rooms.
Most IP cameras use infrared to record video with night vision. Something that we can detect using our smartphone. How? Although these types of lights are invisible to the human eye, mobile cameras can identify them without too much trouble.
The rear cameras usually have filters that block infrared signals, something that luckily does not normally happen with front cameras for selfies. We can check if any of our cameras is capable of identifying infrared lights by taking a TV remote control, pointing it at the mobile camera and pressing a control button. If the camera detects a purple light, great.
Example of infrared light captured with the front camera of the mobile.
From here, we just have to turn off all the lights in the room, put the mobile camera to work and try to locate a reddish point on the screen. If there is a hidden webcam recording us, we will see it without major difficulties as long as we do a good sweep through all the rooms of the accommodation.
Night vision cameras do not have a standard configuration, so we can find 2,3, 4 or up to 6 points of light. Its color can also vary and appear in purple or even white tones.
The truth is that night vision webcams are pretty easy to spot.
Detect hidden cameras by looking for electromagnetic fields
If the camera does not have night vision or is very well hidden, we may not detect it with the purple light trick. In these cases the best we can do is look for a source of electromagnetism . Although it may seem a bit complicated, the truth is that there are mobile applications that help us to carry out this task, such as Hidden Camera Detector (available for Android / iOS).
Hidden Camera Detector
Hidden Camera Detector
Developer: LSC, LLC
Price: Free +
First of all, we must be clear that these types of apps only work if our smartphone has a magnetic sensor . If our phone has this feature then we just have to activate the app and let it scan the room. Cameras and microphones usually create quite powerful electromagnetic fields, so our job will consist of taking a walk through all the rooms and focusing our attention on the places with the greatest magnetic activity.
Of course, if we want to do a good job, it is advisable to turn off the rest of the electronic devices that we may have running. In this way we ensure that the search is carried out cleanly and without interference. When the Hidden Camera Detector app shows a red circle, it is a sign that there is a possible hidden camera operating around us. Just try zooming in on the sign to locate the location of the camera.
Lastly, install a flash locator
If none of this has worked, the room most likely does not contain a hidden camera. Even so, if we still have doubts we can install a flash detector. Basically it is an app whose objective is to locate the reflection of a lens . The application is called “Glint Finder” and is available for free on the Android Play Store.
Its effectiveness is not as high as the rest of the methods that we have discussed, although at least it will help us to remove any doubts that we may still have, and who knows, with a bit of luck, we even found a lens that we had lost on the carpet ago. days.
As you can see, there is no universal method for detecting surveillance cameras in places such as rental apartments, vacation stays or hotels, but if the owners are not too smart or do not put the appropriate measures, we can easily identify them with any of these tips and at least , sleep a little more peacefully.