This week I checked into a Best Western Hotel in the North East of England. The receptionist duly handed me a room key and I went up to my designated room on the third floor, opened the door and I saw someone else's stuff scattered across the hotel room. I was then it dawned on me that I had misheard my room number due to the thick local accent of the receptionist, so I shut the door and used the same room key to open the correct room door just down the corridor. But how come my room key opened another person's hotel room door?
I inspected the key and my room's door lock, you didn't have to be a master locksmith to see they were very poor and outdated (see pics). So I called the hotel management, who initially had their doubts, that is until I used my room key to instantly open half dozen other hotel room doors, including rooms on different floors of the hotel.
Could I have been given a master key in error? Well I quickly dispelled this thought when I encountered a colleague who had just checked in, I grasped his key I used it open a bunch more hotel room doors!
I'm a 'White Hat' kind of person, so as will as informing the local management of the hotel, I informed the management at the hotel chain about this serious security issue. Just imagine what a bad guy could have stolen if he figured it out? Certainly very concerning for ladies staying alone at such a hotel.
The lesson here is implicitly trusting and making security assumptions with third parties is a dangerous game to play. The reason why a hotel doesn't match up to your home security is because the hotel does not share the same values as you. In business the same applies with third parties you trust to press and store your data. The problem with the hotel room locks will have been there for years, the hotel staff and management may well have known about the problem, or at least understood the locks were substandard and needed replacing, yet they have done nothing to resolve it, as it is not their possessions and persons at risk.
I have written to both the local hotel manager and hotel chain director about this issue, they both have acknowledged the issue and stated they urgency intend to resolve it, however at time of this posting the door locks have not been replaced.