The cybersecurity researchers at SlashNext have unveiled a concerning attack trend that targets unsuspecting users who own Airbnb accounts. This trend involves a wide range of malicious techniques, though not entirely new, that pose a significant threat.
- Cybercriminals are using a variety of methods to gain unauthorized access to Airbnb accounts, including stealers, stolen cookies, and account checkers.
- Once cybercriminals have gained access to an Airbnb account, they can use it to book properties, make fraudulent purchases, or even steal the victim’s personal information.
- The scale of the problem is significant, with thousands of Airbnb accounts available for purchase on digital stores for as low as one dollar.
- To protect yourself from this type of fraud, it is important to take steps to secure your Airbnb account, such as using a strong password and enabling two-factor authentication.
- You can also help to protect yourself from Airbnb scams by only booking with hosts who have a good reputation and positive reviews, being wary of offers that seem too good to be true, and never giving out your personal information to anyone you don’t know and trust.
Cybercriminals are constantly finding new ways to exploit popular online platforms, and Airbnb is no exception. In a recent investigation by SlashNext cybersecurity firm, researchers found that cybercriminals are using a variety of methods to gain unauthorized access to Airbnb accounts, including stealers, stolen cookies, and account checkers.
Once cybercriminals have gained access to an Airbnb account, they can use it to book properties, make fraudulent purchases, or even steal the victim’s personal information. In some cases, cybercriminals have even used stolen Airbnb accounts to commit identity theft.
The scale of the problem is significant. In the SlashNext investigation, researchers found that thousands of Airbnb accounts were available for purchase on digital stores for as low as one dollar. This suggests that cybercriminals are regularly stealing Airbnb account information and selling it on the black market.
A recent blog post released by cybersecurity firm SlashNext sheds light on the audacious tactics employed by cybercriminals to exploit Airbnb for their nefarious activities.
Cybercriminals harness a breed of malicious software (malware or trojan), aptly named “stealers,” to extract sensitive information like usernames, passwords and other sensitive logs. from a targeted device. Once collected, these logs are typically routed to servers controlled by crooks.
The deployment of stealers is carried out through a variety of techniques, ranging from manipulating human psychology (social engineering) to exploiting software vulnerabilities and leveraging deceptive advertising (malvertising).
Beneath the digital underbelly lies a clandestine market where cybercriminals can purchase and vend unauthorized access to devices, referred to as “bots,” “installs,” or “infections,” en masse.
For those willing to invest, cybercriminals can swiftly acquire a repository of thousands, if not tens of thousands, of devices teeming with stealers.
Targeting web application account information across most browsers, stealers neatly package their loot within a structured format. This format comprises columns and rows, encapsulating a slew of data fragments—names, credit card particulars, and more. Aside from harvesting login credentials, stealers can also hijack cookies.
Cookies: A Gateway to Illicit Access
Cookies, unobtrusive data packets housing users’ online preferences and activities, have unwittingly become pawns in the hands of cybercriminals. These crooks thrive on stealing, trading, and buying Airbnb account cookies on various illicit forums. Armed with these ill-gotten tokens, cybercriminals temporarily breach Airbnb accounts without the need for legitimate usernames or passwords.
Imagine a scenario where cybercriminals purchase a trove of stolen Airbnb cookies, load them onto their browsers, and slip into victims’ accounts undetected. Armed with this unauthorized access, they can masquerade as legitimate users, booking properties or orchestrating other unauthorized transactions without triggering any alarms. It’s imperative to note that such session cookies possess a brief lifespan, compelling cybercriminals to act swiftly.
Monetizing Stolen Data
With user accounts compromised and stolen cookies in their arsenal, cybercriminals pivot toward monetizing. A common practice involves directly peddling stolen account data and cookies to other crooks. This trade occurs on online forums, dark web markets and even through Telegram channels.
According to SlashNext, the dark web and underground platforms are filled with thousands of Airbnb accounts on sale, a shocking devaluation reducing each account’s worth to a mere dollar.
Evidently, the scale of Airbnb account heists has created the emergence of “account checkers”—automated tools that systematically scrutinize Airbnb credentials stored in a text file.
Navigating Airbnb Cookie Checkers
The modus operandi behind account checkers is straightforward: threat actors input a text file crammed with stolen credentials, and the checker discerns the valid from the defunct. Some advanced iterations of these tools even execute specific actions, like making fraudulent bookings.
With a “passion” for innovation, cybercriminals have even initiated a service slashing up to 50% off Airbnb bookings. The profusion of interest in these services is evident, with forum threads racking up tens of thousands of views and hundreds of replies.
The unsettling reality is that cybercriminals have masterminded an array of techniques to exploit Airbnb’s popularity, leveraging stealers and purloined cookies to breach user accounts.
The stolen information is subsequently sold to other criminals or leveraged to offer discounted services on the black market. The rampant account theft underscores the pressing need for vigilance and proactive measures to counteract these insidious cyber threats.
Hackread.com has compiled a list of steps that can help Airbnb users (or any unsuspecting user online) protect themselves against the growing trend of attacks.
- Enable two-factor authentication.
- Use a strong password and change it regularly.
- Be careful about clicking on links in emails or messages from people you don’t know.
- If you think your account has been compromised, immediately change your password and contact Airbnb customer support.
In addition to the tips above, here are some other things you can do to protect yourself from Airbnb scams:
- Be wary of offers that seem too good to be true.
- Only book with hosts who have a good reputation and positive reviews.
- Never give out your personal information, such as your credit card number or passport number, to anyone you don’t know and trust.
- If you have any concerns about a booking, contact Airbnb customer support.
However, the best defence against cybersecurity threats is using common sense. Therefore, employ it at all times.