Millions of hotel room keycard locks 'flawed'

2012-07-25 09:04
A Mozilla software developer is showcasing alleged vulnerabilities he discovered in hotel room locks manufacturer by Onity at the Black Hat Security Conference in Las Vegas, Nevada.

According to a report on, the weakness allegedly lies in a DC power port found at the bottom of the lock that can be "overcome by a few hacker tricks and a handful of cheap hardware".

Cody Brocious, a 24-year-old security researcher, was able to use an open-source hardware gadget he built for less than $50 (about R424 at R8,48/$), via the port.

“I plug it in, power it up, and the lock opens,” he says.

This particular lock has been installed on the doors of between four to five million hotel rooms around the world according to the company’s figures.

His reported break-in trick was successful when tested on a standard Onity lock ordered online, with him easily bypassing the card reader and triggering the opening mechanism every time. It wasn't as effect on actual Onity locks installed on real hotel doors though. Out ofthree doors tested he was only able to open one, that only on the second attempt after having made a few tweaks to his software. But the fact that Brocious was able to open even a single door is why hoteliers and travellers should be on guard.

Brocious is said to be releasing his research in a paper as well as source code through his website, potentially enabling others to perfect his methods.

When contacted, Onity's response was, “We have not seen Mr Brocious’ presentation and cannot comment on the content. Onity places the highest priority on the safety and security provided by its products and works every day to develop and supply the latest security technologies to the marketplace.”

If staying in a hotel with one of these locks, our advice would be,"Best you use that back up security chain lock just in case."
Read more on:    travel international

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