Feeds

Hotel blames burglaries on hacked Onity card locks

Black Hat demo exploited in the wild

5 things you didn’t know about cloud backup

Updated A Texas hotel is claiming to have suffered multiple burglaries stemming from flaws in a common type of electronic lock, exploits for which were demonstrated at this year's Black Hat hacking conference.

In July, security researcher Cody Brocious showed how a device cobbled together from $50 worth of parts could be used to break into locks manufactured by Onity, which supplies some of the largest hotel chains in the world. The device plugs into the data port on the locks and opens them by defeating poor crypto in the locking system.

Now the Hyatt hotel in Houston's Galleria complex has told Forbes that its guests suffered a string of break-ins in September, and that it had identified the hacking of its Onity locks as the method used. 27-year-old Matthew Allen Cook has been arrested for the break-ins and is helping the police with their inquiries.

"We will vigorously defend these charges, and all the facts will be available after the trial," Cook's lawyer said.

The hotel owners say they became aware of the issue with Onity locks in August and were working with the company on a fix when the thefts took place. At the time of the Black Hat presentation, Onity called the hack "unreliable, and complex to implement," but it appears not too complex for others to imitate.

So far Onity has offered two workarounds – covering up the data port with screws that are difficult to remove, or replacing the entire circuit board of the lock, which the manufacturer wants hotels to pay for themselves.

The hotel said it had been taking steps to mitigate the flaw but the robberies occurred before this had been done. It was eventually reduced to posting a physical guard in reception to try and deter thefts, in addition to gumming up the data port of the locks with epoxy glue.

Insurance firm Petra Risk Solutions issued an alert to its customers on the Onity locks last month, but said that around a fifth of its customers have yet to deal with the issue. Todd Seiders, director of risk management at Petra, said the company was already aware of other cases of theft using the hack.

"We're expecting incidents in which these devices are used to explode nationally," he said. "As crooks find success with it, they’re going to go back to the Internet and say 'hey, it works. I was able to break into ten rooms.' And then others build it and try it. We're going to get hit hard over the next year." ®

Update

"Onity places the highest priority on the safety and security provided by its products. Immediately following the hacker’s public presentation of illegal methods of breaking into hotel rooms, Onity engineers quickly developed both mechanical and technical solutions to address the issue," the company said in an emailed statement.

"These solutions have been tested and validated by two independent security firms, and are available to customers worldwide. All requests for these solutions have already been fulfilled, or are in the process of being fulfilled."

The essential guide to IT transformation

More from The Register

next story
One HUNDRED FAMOUS LADIES exposed NUDE online
Celebrity women victimised as Apple iCloud accounts reportedly popped
Rubbish WPS config sees WiFi router keys popped in seconds
Another day, another way in to your home router
Goog says patch⁵⁰ your Chrome
64-bit browser loads cat vids FIFTEEN PERCENT faster!
NZ Justice Minister scalped as hacker leaks emails
Grab your popcorn: Subterfuge and slur disrupts election run up
HP: NORKS' cyber spying efforts actually a credible cyberthreat
'Sophisticated' spies, DIY tech and a TROLL ARMY – report
NIST to sysadmins: clean up your SSH mess
Too many keys, too badly managed
Scratched PC-dispatch patch patched, hatched in batch rematch
Windows security update fixed after triggering blue screens (and screams) of death
Attack flogged through shiny-clicky social media buttons
66,000 users popped by malicious Flash fudging add-on
New Snowden leak: How NSA shared 850-billion-plus metadata records
'Federated search' spaffed info all over Five Eyes chums
prev story

Whitepapers

Implementing global e-invoicing with guaranteed legal certainty
Explaining the role local tax compliance plays in successful supply chain management and e-business and how leading global brands are addressing this.
Endpoint data privacy in the cloud is easier than you think
Innovations in encryption and storage resolve issues of data privacy and key requirements for companies to look for in a solution.
Why cloud backup?
Combining the latest advancements in disk-based backup with secure, integrated, cloud technologies offer organizations fast and assured recovery of their critical enterprise data.
Consolidation: The Foundation for IT Business Transformation
In this whitepaper learn how effective consolidation of IT and business resources can enable multiple, meaningful business benefits.
High Performance for All
While HPC is not new, it has traditionally been seen as a specialist area – is it now geared up to meet more mainstream requirements?