How safe is your hotel room? - AmericaNowNews.com

How safe is your hotel room?

Billions of travelers stay in hotels every year, and they often take valuable personal items with them - which thieves would love to steal.

Hotel rooms usually have multiple locks on the doors, but is that enough to protect you and your belongings?

We found numerous security gadgets you can purchase which claim to offer protection for travelers.

"They're a little, I would say, extreme," says Bill Deloache, who is a general manager for a national hotel chain.

If you go online and search "how to break into a hotel room," you will find numerous YouTube videos, websites and blogs filled with tips and tricks on how to bust into a hotel room.

Executive Director of the Charlotte (N. C.) Area Hotel Association Sid Smith says while this may be alarming to some, there's little reason to be too worried.

"Take it with a large grain of salt, because the security the hotels have put in is top notch," he says.

Some of the gadgets you can buy to secure your space and your belongings include an extra door lock and stop, a second security system for the in-room safe, and a portable door alarm system. 

These products may work as intended, but Deloache says there's only one reason to spend the money: Peace of mind. 

"It's a personal decision if someone is more comfortable with one of those devices," Deloache says. 

There are some things you can do that won't cost you a dime. 

If you're inside, make sure the door is completely shut and that all locks are locked, including the deadbolt and latch.

If you leave your room for the evening, don't leave valuables lying around. The best place to put them is in the safe if there is one in your room.

"Use them," Smith says. "They're easy to use and extremely secure."  

If you don't trust the safe in your room, take your valuables to the front desk and ask to have them stored in the hotel's safe.  

"If it's something that's really of value to you, that you can't live without, then leave it at home," Deloache says.

Most hotel thefts are crimes of opportunity because doors are often left open when housekeepers are cleaning a room, and room keys are often lost or stolen. 

Never write the door number on the key, and be sure to throw away the identifying paper sleeve after you have checked in.

If you lose your key, tell the hotel staff immediately so they can re-code the lock.

"Be smart just like you would be at home," Smith advises. 

Many of the break-in artists who post their work online, Smith says, are making it look much easier than it is.

Some of these videos could even be produced by the companies who are trying to sell a security gadget.

"I think you can relax, but don't let your guard down," Smith cautions. 

Hotel room break-ins do happen and if a security gadget make you feel more comfortable and safe, then you should get it.

Otherwise, just be sure to pack the same care and common sense you use at home.

Copyright 2013 America Now. All rights reserved.


Additional Information

The following information is from an ABC.com report entitled "Electronic locks at thousands of hotels" (Source: http://www.abc4.com/content/news/slc/story/Electronic-locks-at-thousands-of-hotels/bNsvIqhsOkW1XMj2vbMAxw.cspx).

  • A cheaply made device hidden in magic markers or iPhone cases is able to unlock the door via an uncovered security port in the bottom of the door.
  • Successful hackers have posted videos of their devices in action on sites like YouTube.
  • Hotel chains are addressing the issue by corking up the bottom of the locks. 

The following information is from an NBC.com news report (Source: http://www.nbcnews.com/travel/travelkit/keycard-hacker-picks-locks-exposes-gap-hotel-security-918330).

  • Onity, the company whose locks were hacked with instructions posted online, has announced an upgrade to address the issue.
  • Security experts say travelers are more likely to deal with misplaced or demagnetized cards than rogue hackers intent trying to steal.
  • Most hotel crimes are crimes of opportunity when guests aren't paying attention.
  • When in your room, use secondary security systems like deadbolts, chains or latches.
  • When leaving make sure the door is completely shut.
  • Use the peephole before opening the door. If the person outside claims to be from the hotel, confirm by calling the front desk.
  • Never write your room number on your keycard or leave it lying around. Memorize it and throw the sleeve it came in away.
  • If you lose the card, report it to staff immediately who will recode the lock. Make sure they ask you for identification before issuing you a new key.
  • Tailgating or Piggybacking is when someone asks a guest to hold a door for them, and accesses the building without a card. At the very least, ask to see their card.

The following information is from a Forbes.com article (Source: http://www.forbes.com/sites/andygreenberg/2012/07/23/hacker-will-expose-potential-security-flaw-in-more-than-four-million-hotel-room-keycard-locks/).

  • A Mozilla software developer and security researcher named Cody Brocious discovered vulnerabilities in hotel locks manufactured by Onity.
  • Onity's devices are installed on between 4 and 5 million hotel rooms around the world.
  • If you run your fingers under the keycard lock outside the door, you will find a DC power port. Using cheap hardware, the door can be opened using the tiny hole.
  • Brocious claims to have built his hacking device for less than $50.
  • Results of these types of break-ins vary. Sometimes, the lock will open in a few seconds.
  • The reporter of this story and Brocious tested out the idea on several hotel doors and results were varied. Still, the device points out real flaws.
  • Brocious explained that the inconsistency is a timing issue between his device and the lock.
  • Brocious says the problem is due to the fact that every lock's memory is exposed to whatever device attempts to read it through the port.
  • Each lock requires a cryptographic key to "open" but the data is stored in the lock's memory so its easily accessible on Brocious' device.
  • The locks can't be simply upgraded with new firmware to fix the problem with installing new circuit boards.

The following information is from CrimeDoctor.com (Source: http://www.crimedoctor.com/hotelinvasion.htm).

  • Hotel burglars work mostly during the day when a room is likely to be empty.
  • The door and patio are the common points of entry. More commonly, they knock to get you to answer or follow you to your room.
  • Request a room on the third floor or above.
  • Change rooms if the locks are not secure or old.
  • Never use a chain-latch to partially open the door.

Click here for examples of security gadgets.


 

  • Most Popular StoriesMost Popular StoriesMore>>

  • Fugitive Friday: Central Virginia's Most Wanted

    Fugitive Friday: Central Virginia's Most Wanted

    Friday, August 29 2014 10:04 AM EDT2014-08-29 14:04:54 GMT
    Fugitive Fridays tracks down Central Virginia's most wanted. Take a look at the photos and see if you can help police track down these suspects.
    Fugitive Friday helps track down Central Virginia's Most Wanted.
  • Six deadly foods for dogs

    Six deadly foods for dogs

    Every pet owner knows a dog can get into just about anything around the house. One woman found that out the hard way when her dog ate a bunch of grapes! Turns out, that's one of the most dangerous foods
    Every pet owner knows a dog can get into just about anything around the house. But these common snacks could be fatal for Fido.
  • Physicians warn against giving melatonin to children

    Physicians warn against giving melatonin to children

    Parents desperate to get their troubled sleepers to bed are turning to synthetic melatonin, which is a supplement sold over the counter. But expert warn it could have adverse effects on child development.
    Many adults turn to sleep aids like melatonin, but now more parents are giving them to their kids, too. We talked to physicians to see what they had to say about how it could affect your child's development.
Powered by WorldNow