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Use Caution Traveling, Hackers Now Have Keys To Hotel Rooms

By May 12, 2018February 28th, 2023Cybersecurity

Score one for the good guys, but with hesitation. Unfortunately, in today’s fast-moving digital world, even a victory doesn’t mean the end of a problem.

Recently, a pair of researchers (Tomi Tuominen and Timo Hirvonen of F-Secure) released information about a new hack they had discovered. It takes advantage of a critical security flaw in the magnetic VingCard locking systems used in hotel chains around the world.

This particular system produced by Assa Abloy is deployed in more than 42,000 facilities around the world. So in terms of scope and scale, this flaw impacts literally millions of doors.

The security flaw is about as bad as it gets, too.  The duo found a way that hackers could turn an old, dead RFID key card into a master key that could be used to unlock any VingCard door.  Although the software they used to create the master key card is proprietary, any hacker worth his salt and with a couple hundred dollars to spare for equipment could reproduce the hack on their own, if given time.

Fortunately, long before the pair announced their discovery of the hack, they contacted Assa Abloy privately. They have been working with the company’s R&D department to develop a fix for the security flaw.  That fix has now been deployed, and the researchers stress that so far, there is no evidence that the exploit has ever been used in the wild.

Of course, that doesn’t mean that it couldn’t be used, and just because Assa Abloy has released a fix for the flaw doesn’t mean that everyone will promptly install it. So, the risk is still very real.  If you’re a frequent traveler, take extra precautions and don’t leave your valuables in plain sight in your room.  They may be more vulnerable than you realize.

Chris Forte

Chris Forte, President and CEO of Olmec Systems, has been in the MSP workspace for the past 25 years. Chris earned his Master’s Degree from West Virginia University, graduating Magna Cum Laude. He was a past member of the Entrepreneurs’ Organization, a current member of the New Jersey Power Partners and Executive Association of New Jersey, where he has previously served on its board of directors. In his spare time, Chris enjoys traveling with his family. He also admits to being a struggling golfer and avid watcher of college football and basketball. He currently lives in Boonton Township, NJ with his wife, two daughters, son, and black lab Luna.