SALT LAKE CITY (ABC 4 News) - Tourists trust hotels for a safe night's sleep, but now hotel chains worldwide have a new high-tech safety problem on their hands. The electronic locks on guest rooms can easily be opened without a key with the use of a new hacker tool.
The security risk was revealed during an ABC News investigation. Using a cheaply made device, a news crew was able to get into several hotel rooms at a Hilton Garden Inn in New York without a key.
Security consultant Nick Percoco demonstrated just how easy it is to break in. “I'm going to insert this marker into the bottom of the door and door is going to open up,” said Percoco.
The devise also worked at the nearby Holiday Inn Express, where once again, no key no problem.
Percoco said, “I can go down the entire hallway and unlock every single door.”
Hackers first exposed the problem earlier this summer, posting videos online then using more primitive gadgets, but now the tools can be hidden in magic markers, even iPhone cases.
The problem centers around an electronic door lock made by Onity. One particular model sold to hotels globally is vulnerable to the hackers who claim the company left a security port uncovered that allows them to open the locks with an electronic key.
We wanted to know if the Hilton Garden Inn in Salt Lake City is vulnerable to the same kind of hacker thieves. We showed the manager the story
Marilyn Sumner admitted, "This is the first time I’ve heard about it."
So we were immediately were taken to see the general manager who knew about the hotel's security practices.
Sumner said, "Let's find her and see if this situation applies to us because if it does I know for sure we'll take it right to our management and get this fixed because we certainly don't want our guests to feel like they're not safe."
General Manager Marianna Gamboa knew right away why we were there.
Gamboa said, "What they've been doing is they have some kind of cord they can put and hook up on the bottom of the locks."
Upon inspection it was easy to see the locks at Salt Lake’s Hilton Garden Inn are not those that are vulnerable to the thieves. The locks in question are made by Onity. The locks at Salt Lake's Hilton Garden Inn are made by SAFLOK.
Gamboa said, "As soon as they said it was a different provider for the locks I was like okay because we're okay and the first thing you do is you run to your hotel and make sure that all my guests are okay."
While it's not a problem at Salt Lake’s Hilton Garden Inn security experts say millions of people worldwide are at risk every single day until the faulty locks are fixed.
Onity did not respond to a request for an interview, but told ABC News in a statement, “…the company is working with its customers to deploy solutions.”