Straight from Wall Street: can you trust a hotel's mobile key when your phone can open the door?

Security depends on the hotel

By the time you book a hotel room, you're already waiting in airports, on planes and in transit. There may also be a wait to check into your room, but if your hotel offers mobile check-in and digital room keys, there is no wait.

Some hotels offer these features through mobile apps, allowing guests to bypass the front desk and go directly to their rooms without waiting. When the phone touches the lock on the door, the door to the room opens with a mobile key.

Mobile keys are a convenient and time-saving technology, but as a new technology, they can also be vulnerable. The security of the mobile key function depends on the measures taken by the hotel or mobile key provider to protect its electronic key system.

How and where the move keys work

Mobile key functionality varies by provider and hotel. Usually, the phone's Bluetooth settings need to be turned on to make the buttons work. These electronic keys can also provide access to other areas on the property, such as the fitness center, lounge, elevator or parking lot. You can also perform other tasks, such as answering a call while using a key.

Mobile critical features have been available on more mobile devices in a growing list of hotel properties:

Marriott and SPG Hotels use in over 400 hotels

More than 1,000 Hilton hotels use digital keys

InterContinental Hotels & Resorts Group ( IHG ) is piloting this feature

Radisson RED offers mobile key option at three hotels

How secure are mobile keys?

The FBI says it hasn't found any cases of compromised hotel mobile key systems in the U.S., but hotel hacks aren't unheard of. Last year, the Romantik Seehotel Jagerwirt in Austria made headlines when hackers attacked the hotel's electronic key system, locking the property out of its computer system and preventing management from accessing the reservation system. The hotel was using interchangeable key cards. New guests cannot use the card and the receptionist cannot create a new key for them.

The hackers reportedly sent a ransom request to the hotel via email for two bitcoins to return management's access to the electronic key system. Hotel manager Christophe Brandstatt says the ransom has been paid and the hotel has been restored to its traditional keys.

This "trading software" strategy has been evolving in recent years toward system-connected devices such as locks, said Michel Chamberland, head of North American operations at Trustwave's Spider Labs. Trustwave is a security company that protects businesses from cybercrime. Chumberland is a so-called "ethical hacker"; he works with his team to crack the mobile keys and locks of hotel customers to find vulnerabilities before hacking.

Chumberland said: "On one of the locks we looked at, we were able to reset the admin password without authorization."." We are able to manage the entire environment. He added: "As mobile apps are updated, new vulnerabilities emerge.

TJ Person, founder and CEO of mobile key provider OpenKey, says nearly all digital locks in the hospitality space have encryption features that reflect the security of financial institutions. The company has a cloud security company that monitors its servers 24/7 to help find and correct vulnerabilities.

ted Harrington, executive partner of the Maryland-based security firm Independent Security Evaluators, recommends that manufacturers of these solutions perform the same level of security assessment on their systems as the attackers.

Harrington said:-"There is a misconception that only encryption can provide security, and that is fundamentally incorrect". He suggests using encryption as a lock on your house. If the front window of your house is open, the attacker won't bother to break the lock on the door; he'll come in through the window.

Are mobile keys safer than plastic key cards?

Traditional key cards are often still an option for guests who prefer them, but they are not necessarily more secure than mobile keys. Chamberland said some magnetic keypad cards can be cloned wirelessly and read using an antenna. Of course, physical theft is a risk, especially if hotel guests keep their key cards and room numbers together for convenience (all information thieves need to access the room).

Of course, smartphones can be stolen, but setting a phone lock and requiring a separate login for the mobile key app can provide some additional protection over a keypad card.

Harrington said:“ I think people should be wary of using mobile keys, They should realize that there are security issues involved。”。“ Be an informed consumer。 Read as much news as possible, Understanding the security field, And proceed with caution.。"

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