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Key card security gap: Millions of hotel rooms affected

Key card security gap: Millions of hotel rooms affected

A vulnerability in key cards from Swiss company Dormakaba could allow unauthorized people to access millions of hotel rooms. What is known.

Laura Helbig/T Online

A hotel room is opened with a key card: Researchers have identified a security flaw in a widely used system.Image: imago

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New technologies and advanced digital transformation are now replacing many things – even switches. There is hardly a car that still needs to be opened with a key. Especially in hotels, it is difficult to imagine using a key instead of a so-called key card.

But unfortunately, there are risks lurking wherever digital technology is concerned. In September 2022, a group of security researchers discovered a vulnerability in key cards equipped with RFID chips, which they have now discovered Posted on their website.

Specifically, this includes cards from the Swiss manufacturer Dormakaba with the “Saflok” system, which is used in both hotels and residential buildings. According to researchers, about three million RFID locks in 131 countries around the world are affected by the vulnerability called “Unsaflok.” The Safelock system has been in use since 1988.

Counterfeit key cards allow unauthorized access

Using fake key cards, people can gain unauthorized access to millions of hotel rooms and homes. To do this, hackers only have to read the card – and it can also be expired. According to security researchers, no case is known yet, but it cannot be ruled out. Even the security lock no longer works.

After the issue was identified, the vulnerabilities were reported to the manufacturer in September 2022. To date, only about 36 percent of the vulnerable locks have been updated or replaced, As it says on the website. This process only started in November 2023, more than a year after the report was submitted to the manufacturer.

Two of the most affected models.

Two of the most affected models. Photo: UNSAFLOC.

However, upgrading can take a long time and be very difficult. The locks should be replaced or a software update obtained. In addition, all key cards must be reissued. Receiver software and card encoders must also be updated. The integration of external service providers, for example, elevators, parking and payment systems, may require additional upgrades, the researchers explain.

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