Are you on the hunt for the best VPN for AirBnB? Then look no further than the official VPN.com guide on everything you need to know about connecting to unsecure WiFi networks when you’re travelling away from home.
As anyone who’s stayed at an AirBnB before can tell you, you don’t always (read: almost never) get the full “hotel experience” that most people look for when they stay somewhere like a Marriott [EDIT: Backlink opportunity].
This can manifest itself in many different aspects of the overall experience, like unclean sheets or no room service, but for the purpose of this article where it really hits home is the lack of proper WiFi options.
See, any hotel that offers their own WiFi almost always does so with the support of a trained technical staff that can maintain their network and prevent it from falling victim to any potential intruders. With 24/7 repair service available through their participating enterprise partners, infected hotspots or routers can be immediately updated to fight back against potential threats...AirBnB has none of this.
The Real Threat of AirBnB
Look, there’s no getting around the basics facts of this case: AirBnB is able to undercut hotel prices and be the cheapest game in just about any town it operates in for one simple reason - they don’t own the infrastructure.
As a “crowdsourced” entity, AirBnB simply connects regular people with other regular people, one as a traveller and the other with a nice warm place to stay. The people who sign up to offer their spaces for AirBnB don’t need to go through any especially severe vetting process in order to get approved, which means that potentially your grandmother’s spare room (and all her technical prowess to go along with it) are the only thing standing between hackers of the world and your sensitive data.
Because almost anyone with a credit card and a heartbeat can rent a room through AirBnB, this means that all a hacker might need to do to get their virus spread to the masses is rent a room in a targeted AirBnB for a single night. Over the course of that night they could sign into the local (home) WiFi (even resetting the router if they have access), setup a custom firmware program to steal any data passing through it, and then check out the next morning without the proprietor being any the wiser.
This means the next person who stays at their location and signs into the WiFi won’t actually be signing into a secure network, but rather one that has been hijacked to transmit all sensitive identifying financial information back to the original hacker automatically.
Regular old home owners just don’t have enough control over a home router to be able to guarantee you that it’s as safe as it possibly could be like a major hotel chain might.
Why is This a Problem?
Imagine a scenario where you and your friends are travelling to Italy for the first time, and you want to backpack across the region cheaply, but need somewhere to stay on the first night. You sign into AirBnB and find a spot that’s got the cheapest rates in the country.
After arriving, you instinctively ask what the WiFi password is and sign in so you don’t start racking up the notoriously high price it would cost you to only data roam instead. Once your device is on that network, everything it does passes through the router, and if that router is in any way compromised (via one of the methods we mentioned above), that’s all it would take to have your whole trip ruined.
Before you could even hop on a train a hacker could have your whole life stolen and tucked away neatly in his back pocket. Identifying information, online banking logins, any sites you may have visited or data you may have sent through the hacked router would be instantaneously transmitted back to the hacker, for them to do whatever they see fit with.
The last thing you want to have to deal with while you’re in a foreign country - or even a different state for that matter - is identity theft. The average person spends up to 300 hours and $2,000 trying to get their identity re-established once it’s been stolen, which adds up to a whole lot of extra time and money that you may not have to spare when your flight back home is happening the next day.
Now, this isn’t to say that standard home routers from Linksys, Netgear, D-Link et al. aren’t secure, but security isn’t always the issue here. Many AirBnB operators are simply ignorant of the standard tricks that hackers can use to compromise their own network, and while an IT staff at a professional hotel might be able to catch these more rudimentary attacks in their tracks, a proficient enough hacker can sail past the security of a home network with ease if left to their own devices.
How VPN.com Can Help
With a VPN, you can be sure that any WiFi spot you connect to at any AirBnB is completely secure, regardless of who may have slept in that person’s bed before you. A VPN encrypts all your sensitive information between a secure wall of 256-bit AES encryption protection over the OpenVPN protocol before it ever leaves your computer or mobile device.
This means that even if an AirBnB is unknowingly running a hacked router that’s designed to prey on anyone who was in range to connect to it, you’ll still be able to handle important sensitive documents and online banking information without a care in the world. Not only that, but you also can sit comfortably in the knowledge that while you’re away from home, your identity won’t be under any threat of being stolen and stranding you or your travel partners in a strange land.
So the next time you’re planning a trip overseas or just a short jaunt down the road, we recommend you sign up for your first subscription with a recommendations from VPN.com and get the client installed on your devices before you ever set foot outside the door!