Hotel room burglars exploit critical flaw in electronic door locks

A Houston-based Hyatt is one of a handful of hotels in Texas targeted by digital tools that effortlessly open electronic door locks in a matter of seconds, according to a published report.

In September, Janet Wolf, a 4566-year-old IT services consultant for Dell, returned to her locked room at the Hyatt in Houston's Galleria district to find her Toshiba laptop stolen, Forbes reported on Monday. Management for the hotel later concluded the thief accessed the room by exploiting a vulnerability in the electronic door lock provided by Onity. The exploit was unveiled at this year's Black Hat security conference in Las Vegas, and it affects some four million locks. It works by inserting the plug of a custom-made device into the port of an electronic lock to access the digital key that in turn accesses the opening mechanism.

The investigation into the burglary came around the same time that insurance firm Petra Pacific issued an alert claiming that "several" Texas hotels had their locks picked using the hacking technique, which was developed by researcher Cody Brocious. A director at Petra told Forbes there are at least three such hotels, but he declined to identify them.

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