Friday 17 August 2012

The Hotel with Assumed Security

It is fair to say most people will automatically place a certain amount of trust in hotel they never have visited before, especially those hotels with a decent star rating. Sure you might read a few reviews on the internet about the quality of the services and standard of the facilities at the hotel, but you would have the hotel complete a self costumed questionnaire before you booked. The type of security a hotel has is rarely considered by guests, instead most would blindly trust the hotel provides adequate enough security which protects their possessions, and themselves. Yet making assumptions that someone else's values will be the same as yours is a dangerous thought of complacency. Think about how a hotel's physical security measures up to your home security, and now consider the additional threats staying at a hotel has compared to your home.

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I inspected the key and my room's door lock, you didn't have to be a master locksmith to see they were very poor and outdated (see pics).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.
My Room Key

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.

Video: Opening my Hotel Room Door with another Room key

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.


Locksmith London said...

This story is really alarming! Fortunately most hotels use cards instead of simple keys. But during my next stay at a hotel I'll try that, too!

SecurityExpert said...

I've not had any further communications from either the Management of the Hotel or the Hotel chain. Therefore I conclude they either have fixed the locks by now or do not value it as an urgent and serious issue, in either case I will the Hotel in questions is the Best Western in Hartlepool.

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Locksmith Wolverhampton said...

You would be surprised how common this is especially in card systems where the staff cannot opperate the system correctly and just clone a cleaners masterkey
I work as a Locksmith in Sheffield and have seen customers bring in a master to be copied, the usual give away is the number stamped into the key, and of course we refuse to copy it for them

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Dorothy Peraq said...

For some reason, I always feel safe in hotels because people cannot see what's inside your room unlike in houses. If you leave your curtains open, people will easily spot what's inside. That's why I have motorised curtains and blinds to ensure protection.

Unknown said...

There is a reason for customer satisfaction survey and evaluation. If they don't meet these requirements by being lenient with the hotel security, then the goal of giving a satisfactory service is moot.

Unknown said...

I remember staying at this country chic hotel. It was beautiful but I am after proven security. It's a good thing not only do they have great interiors but the place is very private, too.

Daniel said...

Nice post, thanks. I'm not that surpised acually. Like you said people tend to be much more deligent with there own safty and security that they are with others. If no one complains (it make take several people to raise a concern with the hotel) then nothing will be changed. Call me paranoid but when staying at a hotel I will prop something against the door at night that if the door is opened the noise will wake me.