Ex-hacker reveals how cameras could be hidden in Airbnbs and hotels


A former hacker has shared one way to detect hidden cameras throughout various spots in Airbnbs and hotels.

Marcus Hutchins, @malwaretech, is a security researcher and ex-hacker that shares videos about cybersecurity on TikTok. In a clip shared last August, Hutchins revealed what to look for when trying to find hidden cameras in Airbnbs or hotels.

According to Hutchins, the first thing to search for are “devices that are conveniently placed where a creeper would want to look.” For his first example of him, he directed a flashlight towards a fire alarm above a bed.

“One way to see if the device is a camera is to shine a bright light at it,” I explained. “If you hit a camera lens, it’s going to give a blue reflection.”

He noted that one way to test the technique is by shining a light at a cellphone camera and see what it looks like “when placed under a flashlight.”

Hutchins then took his flashlight, shone it on a digital clock, and discovered that there was a camera in there.

“This clock is mirrored, but if we shine a bright light on it, we can see through the glass and see there’s a camera there,” he said. “This technique can also work on two-way mirrors.”

He described how the camera in the clock was USB powered and plugged into a wall charger. And within the charger, he saw a “little pinhole in the middle,” which was another “camera lens.”

“The camera is USB charged, and the wall charger it’s plugged into is actually also a camera,” he said. “If we shine a light on it, you can see that little pinhole in the middle with the blue reflection, that is the camera lens.”

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I have explained how night vision cameras can also be used and hidden within devices, like the fire alarm. So, with the lights off and using the “front-facing” camera on his phone, Hutchins saw LED lights, used for a hidden camera, in the fire alarm.

“Night vision cameras use infrared LEDs to see and, if we turn off the lights and use the front-facing phone camera, we can actually see these LEDs,” he said.

I have acknowledged how there were LED lights for cameras in the digital clock, as well. Once I have covered the “main LED [light],” which showed the actual time, he could see the light from the camera “a lot better.”

Hutchins expressed how he wouldn’t “rely on this method” for spotting bathroom cameras because “people don’t usually shower in the dark.”

“So, if they’re placing cameras in the bathroom, then they’re probably not going to bother with night vision,” he said.

Hutchins concluded that because the camera lenses in the clock, fire alarm, and wall charger are “very small,” they can be easily hidden.

“So, these camera lenses are very small — as you can see here — so they can be hidden in anything, even a hole in the wall,” I explained. “So you’re going to want to check any suspicious devices or holes that are facing the shower, dressing area, or the bed.”

As of 22 March, the clip has more than 33.5m views, with TikTok users in the comments stunned by Hutchins’ technique.

“I unlocked a new fear I didn’t know I had,” one wrote, while another said: “I’m totally paranoid now.”

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Many viewers emphasized how they’ve always been afraid of hidden cameras in hotels and Airbnbs, as it feels like a lack of privacy.

“Wouldn’t that be [an] invasion of privacy if it wasn’t disclosed about cameras?” a TikTok user wrote. “Couldn’t that be a lawsuit?

“[I] don’t know about y’all but I’ve been scared of things like this ever since I watched 13 Cameras and 14 Cameras six years ago,” another added.

Others found humor in clips, one of which said: “Imagine a creep waiting to see something exciting and all he gets to see is you crying.”

Hutchins recently spoke about the video withbuzzfeedacknowledging how he staged it as an example of ways that cameras could be hidden in hotels and Airbnbs.

“That situation is not something I have personally encountered,” he said.

The Independent has reached out to Hutchins for comment.


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George Holan

George Holan is chief editor at Plainsmen Post and has articles published in many notable publications in the last decade.

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