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Burglars Using Electronic Lock Hack to Break into Hotel Rooms, Steal Stuff

December 5, 2012 at 11:32 AM | by | ()

If you promise to follow our repeated and explicit advice about always storing your valuables in your hotel safe, you can stop reading this post and move on.

But if you insist on being obstinate and refusing to follow very basic safety travel rules, keep reading while we explain to you how millions and millions of hotel rooms in the world not only can be broken into by a simple hack, but are now actually being broken into. Our sister blog HotelChatter has been covering the hack since it was revealed, warning in July that the threat existed and in October that it was worse than previously thought.

For months hotel chains did little to nothing to fix the problem, and now it's led to real people losing real laptops and become a full-blown travel safety issue. Someone should at the very least get kind of reprimanded, don't you think?

A few months ago insurance firm Petra Pacific issued an alert about how "several" Texas hotels - that's more than one, and according to this article at least three - had rooms with electronic locks that were broken into. At around the same time an IT service consultant from Dell had her laptop stolen from a locked room at a Houston Hyatt. The burglars got into her room by exploiting a vulnerability that was unveiled at the summer 2012 Black Hat security conference—which is when HotelChatter picked it up—and that effects about four million electronic locks made by the lock company Onity

Forbes just published a long-ish story on the Hyatt robbery. The device that hackers use to crack the locks costs about $50 to build, and there have been videos on YouTube for months showing people how to make one. But Hyatt hadn't fixed the problem, and when they tried to tackle it after the burglary all they did was put put glue into a small hole that makes the locks vulnerable.

Since the actual problem is with the locks' circuit boards, a lot of people don't think what Hyatt did actually counts as a solution. And yet it's still ahead of many other hotels that haven't even done that much.

We're not going to post any of the 5 minute DIY videos on YouTube showing how to make the device that cracks the lock. Instead here's a news report from the Black Hat conference where the technique was unveiled. Several, several months ago.

[Photo: SCMagazineUS / YouTube]

Archived Comments:

Hotel Safe - That's a stupid idea!

"If you promise to follow our repeated and explicit advice about always storing your valuables in your hotel safe" - This is a very stupid suggestion just google and you'll see why:


Seriously, The hotel safes were hacked far more easily and long before the doors were.

Put simply, don't trust the security of the hotel, they're good at keeping the bed clean and taking your money - nothing else - They certainly don't care about security, good security is too inconvenient.