How To Break Into Hotel Room – Hotels are weird. When we check in somewhere, it’s usually for a very short time – usually a week or less. Despite this, we often think of our bedrooms as our second home. From the moment you drop your luggage onto the floor and under the Egyptian cotton sheets, you’re in your own private, secure bubble.
For one F-Secure researcher, that bubble burst when his laptop was stolen from his hotel room while he was attending an information security conference in Berlin. With no evidence of forced entry, hotel staff dismissed the claim, assuming they had simply misplaced it or lied.
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This incident caught the interest of two of the researcher’s colleagues, Timo Hirvonen and Tomi Tuominen, and the ethical hacking duo turned their attention to the digital locking systems used by hotels.
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Most hotels (especially luxury hotels or chains) use some form of electronic locking system. Instead of handing over physical keys, which are expensive to replace if lost, receptionists provide guests with cheap, disposable key cards. These are increasingly RFID-based, rather than using traditional magnetic cards that often need to be re-magnetized multiple times during a stay.
F-Secure researchers turned their attention to a popular hotel locking system developed by the world’s largest manufacturer of these products: Assa Abloy.
F-Secure is very polite regarding Assa Abloy. In a blog post, she described it as a “high profile brand” and said its locks are known for quality and security. But that didn’t stop them from finding a vulnerability in the underlying software (called Vision, developed by a third-party company called VingCard) that would give an intruder access to any room on a given property.
“You can imagine what a malicious person could do with the power to break into any hotel room with a master key that was basically created out of thin air,” says Tomi Tuominen, practice lead at F-Secure CyberSecurity Services who helped in this research.
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The most surprising thing about this discovery is the trivial way in which it can be exploited. First you just need to get a key card for the property you are targeting.
It doesn’t even have to be the room you want to break into. “Literally any key will do, whether it’s a room key or a locker or garage key,” F-Secure said in a statement.
Worse, the key doesn’t even have to be active. “Even an expired key from a stay five years ago works,” the company says.
Using specialized hardware, which costs “a few hundred euros” online, and some custom software, the attacker can analyze this key and use a calculation process to determine the master key.
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The attacker can use the device to enter any room on a property without hindrance. Alternatively, they can print it on a blank keycard and give it to an accomplice. According to F-Secure, this attack works on both magnetic strips and the most sophisticated hotel RFID cards.
In line with best practices for responsible disclosure, F-Secure notified Assa Abloy of the issue last year and quietly worked with the Swedish company to resolve the issue. A fix has been created and sent to the affected hotels.
“The hospitality world is now a safer place because of Assa Abloy’s diligence and willingness to address the issues identified in our survey,” says Tuominen. “We urge any facility using this software to apply the update as soon as possible.”
F-Secure will not disclose any code or full details of the vulnerability. This makes sense considering that some properties may not have implemented the patch and are therefore still at risk.
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This episode serves as a sobering reminder that computers are everywhere, and where there are computers, there are inevitable security issues. Based on his findings, Tuominen encourages travelers to be safe when traveling.
“People should keep doing the things they’re already doing,” he said. “This means not leaving valuables in the hotel room and using the door chain when in the room or when going to bed. If you’re not already doing these things, now might be a good time to start.”
And other data for various reasons, e.g. B. to keep the TNW websites reliable and secure, to customize content and advertising, to provide social media features and to analyze how our websites are used. Last month in the Philippines, while dozing off in a bungalow on a beach accessible only by boat, I felt the walls and ceiling of my bedroom shake. At first I thought it was an animal until I saw someone turn on the light in my room and try to open the low balcony door.
I was panicking and all I wanted to do was shine a light on them to let them know someone was in there. Luckily it worked and they disappeared and when I heard the owner walk by 20 minutes later I opened the door to let her know.
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In the 10 years that the houses have been there, there has never been a threat to the bungalow complex due to an agreement with the residents who live there. It seemed unbelievable, and yet it happened.
I was shattered for a few days. I asked myself: should I go? Should I leave it? I ended up staying, but I learned a few things from the experience that are close to my heart at the moment.
While I’m not embarrassing myself, I’ll admit I’ve gotten a bit lazy. Whenever I become ambivalent and break my own rules, I get into trouble, like walking alone in Nepal at night and being mugged in Berlin. Both sucked, and neither is entirely my fault, but both could have been avoided. Although I couldn’t have helped
And Conquering Mountains, two women carrying a doorframe and personal alarm. Although there were no police on this beach, if I had made a lot of noise, the owners or other residents might have been able to catch the would-be thief. Since I can’t warn anyone during this time, I was spellbound until I heard the owner drive past some time later.
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Even though it was a sliding glass door, a frame would protect you in most situations. It cannot be opened with a post against the door.
*Please note that I do not recommend nutmeg or pepper spray as most airlines will not allow you to carry these on board or even put them in your checked baggage. In some places, for example in the EU, it is also considered a secret weapon.
If I had to leave, I could have run through the other door with a flashlight and my shoes nearby. But I didn’t set it that way. I usually sleep without clothes so that would have slowed me down or forced me to go out naked in a very conservative country. Two choices I don’t love.
Luckily my phone was close enough to use as a flashlight, but that was about it.
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After this situation, I started practicing self-defense. I already knew some things, but I think it’s important to go one step further. I don’t think the person trying to join wants anything to do with me, but having the skills comes in handy no matter where in the world you are, and at worst, one or two is good things to know.
That doesn’t mean I did everything wrong. I also did a lot of things right. The best thing I did was lock the door instead of assuming I could sleep with the door open or relax enough to leave things unlocked. I always lock my doors no matter what, even if people tell me they never have a problem or it’s not necessary.
After an initial period of fear, I also didn’t let the beautiful place I was in harden me and made me anxious and suspicious of the people in Tablas. Rotten eggs are everywhere, and desperation drives people to do things they probably would rather not do.
Afterwards, a reader told me that she had followed in my footsteps in Tablas and accidentally lost her bag with money and camera and that it was actually returned to her in full! It almost seems as if with this incredible gesture everything is canceled out and harmonized again.
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In the end, I didn’t choose to give up the faith when I travel. I don’t want to live in constant fear – it’s not my worldview or how I want to feel. I prefer to assume that everyone is good and doing their best. Traveling alone didn’t scare me because it could have happened anyway, and
Happened to me several times at home in California anyway (that’s where I’ve had the most home invasions – 3
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