In a mash-up between cybersecurity and physical theft, hackers are using stolen Airbnb accounts to rob homeowners. The BBC recently investigated several instances where attackers took over “verified” Airbnb accounts, used them to book stays, and then burglarized the home.
In an interview with Courier Mail, Airbnb’s CTO Nathan Blecharczyk stated that he believes the account takeovers are most commonly facilitated using credentials obtained in “password dumps” or through phishing attacks. Once the attacker obtains valid credentials for an account, they can use the account’s built up-trust to book rooms while hiding their own identity.
In response to these attacks, Airbnb has introduced support for multi-factor authentication in the form of a text message containing a One-Time Password (OTP) whenever an account logs in from a new device or location. They have also introduced active alerts whenever account information is modified.
Using credentials obtained in a password dump to take over other accounts is an old trick for attackers. For example, back in 2012 Dropbox suffered a data breach because an employee used the same password for their company account as they did for their LinkedIn account, which was the victim of a separate data breach earlier that year. Users can mitigate their risk from a potential data breach by using unique passwords across all their online accounts. This is where a password manager like LastPass or KeePass comes in handy.
Phishing attacks also remain a common tactic for the bad guys. Users should always treat unsolicited email messages as suspicious. Also, always confirm the destination of a web link before visiting it.
Finally, for all online accounts, if the service provider offers multi-factor authentication, use it! Multi-factor authentication could be the difference between being protected and being a victim in the event that an attacker gets ahold of your password. –Marc Laliberte