Hackers' New Target: Hotel Room Locks
Easily exploitable bug goes public, and burglaries result
By John Johnson, Newser Staff
Posted Nov 27, 2012 3:21 PM CST
Updated Dec 1, 2012 7:00 PM CST
File photo of a hotel room door.   (Shutterstock)

(Newser) Forbes has a story sure to make travelers paranoid: It seems that burglars have begun taking advantage of a bug in the keycard locks used on hotel room doors. Several burglaries using the technique took place at the Houston Hyatt in September, and more are suspected at other Texas hotels, writes Andy Greenberg. Security experts expect more to follow given that the model of lock in question, made by Onity, is used in about 4 million hotel rooms worldwide.

This all started in July when Mozilla software developer Cody Brocious made the flaw public at the Black Hat hacker conference. His intent was to publicize it so hotels and Onity could fix the problem, but that didn't happen, even though Greenberg wrote about it at the time. Instead, Brocious' technique seems to have been refined by burglars, who can build what amounts to their own master key for about $50. The Houston Hyatt has filled a hole in the vulnerable locks with glue, but a longer-term fix remains unclear. It will be expensive, and there's a dispute over whether Onity or the hotels using its locks must pay for the upgrade. Read Greenberg's full story here.

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Showing 3 of 24 comments
Dec 14, 2012 9:35 AM CST
How can I get one of these lock hacking things?
Nov 27, 2012 7:48 PM CST
I remember watching the video from Balck Hat months ago. You think they would have updated the locks within a couple weeks. By now every thief in town knows about it.
Nov 27, 2012 7:41 PM CST
Any hotel that employs locks with a known defect is probably liable for your losses. In any case, I'd be staying somewhere else rather than chance losing all my stuff.