Guest Room Tech Tops Investment Priorities as Locking Hack Makes Headlines
Hotel guest room technology — and door locks in particular — received national attention in recent months when Forbes broke the news about a potential room lock security flaw found in Onity locks by a 24-year old software developer and security researcher. In a highly-contested decision (criticized as poor judgment by some and applauded as necessary full disclosure by others), the researcher released specific details of how to perform the lock hack. Since then a handful of hotels have alleged that the method was used by thieves in a series of guest room break-ins.
While the threat is limited to one manufacturer’s locking technology, it still could impact as many as 4 million hotel rooms. Onity responded with a fix, but is charging hoteliers for replacement technology, also a decision under criticism. Hotels, meanwhile, are putting a priority on upgrading locking technology. According to our survey, which was conducted at about the same time that the news broke about the potential lock flaw, more than one-third of hoteliers (35% overall) are planning to upgrade their hotel locks. About 20% will do so by the end of 2013, and another 15% will upgrade sometime thereafter.
Right now, there are plenty of fingers being pointed with regard to ownership, if the hack method becomes a repeated source of break-ins. But regardless of who is to blame, it’s the guest whose safety is compromised and the hotel whose name will be tarnished — much in the same way a payment security breach impacts consumers and merchants. As pressure for more sophisticated — and now secure — guest room technology increases, hotel investments in this area will become an even higher stakes game.
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