14 Apr 2017
Airbnb to work on app security after hijackers burgle homes
Three people were robbed as hijackers hacked into verified accounts and, under false pretence burgled the properties of those people, who had listed it on Airbnb.
Nate Blecharczyk, co founder of Airbnb expressed concern over the incidents and noted that they were working on changes.
Blecharczyk said, "This is not acceptable to us, therefore, we're working around the clock to do everything we can."
How does Airbnb work?
There are two types of profiles one can create and both require verification of ID as a security measure. Additionally, a 'host' account needs to upload pictures, verify ID, phone numbers and address.
This breach could been prevented with "two way security authentication"
Two-step verification or 2FA (Two-factor verification) provides an extra layer of protection while logging in and is available with major sites like Amazon, Facebook and Google.
In this system, after you enter the password, you are prompted with a text message on your phone carrying a code, which you need to enter in order to log in.
How is it beneficial in stopping hackings like these?
The two-step verification ensures that a hacker cannot just hack into your account and misuse it; as they also need your phone to operate the account.
The codes sent via text messages are usually one-time password (OTP) and expire after single use, thus making it absolutely necessary to carry the phones every time when someone is logging in to receive the new OTP.
How it happened and the measures taken
It appears that the hackers had made their way into Airbnb verified profiles and altered the profile photo and details while keeping the verification badge intact, which led to the hosts believing them to be legit profiles.
Airbnb after these attacks has finally initiated a two-factor verification and has also decided to send text alerts to users if their profiles are detected getting altered.
Airbnb: Story of a successful venture
Airbnb started as a joint venture between friends who were unable to pay their rent.
Launched in 2007, Joe Gebbia and Brian Chesky first started renting out their living rooms with three airbeds to facilitate guests, who were unable to book hotels at peak time.
They created the website airbedandbreakfast.com and charged $80 per night which led to the birth of Airbnb.
The enemy at the other end of the terminal
The Airbnb incident was not an isolated incident, rising cyber espionage in recent times are making people sceptical about technology when it comes to security.
A recent study found out that 59% of its constituents believe vehicle hacking would be a problem for smart cars and are inclined to hold on to their old cars than opt for emission-free better technology.