As a frequent traveler, both personally and professionally, this bit of research unnerved me. Of course, it makes sense when you think about it, and none of us should be surprised, but it is a good reminder for those of us who are on the road a lot.
Security researchers at F-Secure in Finland report that flaws in the software used to make millions of hotel room keys allow hackers to create master keys that open rooms without a trace. That is, millions of rooms in tens of thousands of hotels around the world could be opened with one fell swoop. Luckily, these were ethical hackers, and they notified the manufacturer of the electronic locks and helped them fix the flaw. The manufacturer recently issued a software update, which the researchers urge the hospitality industry to patch. Push that patch, hotel industry!
Now that there is a fix, we are relieved, but reminded that anything digital and electronic is hackable, including our hotel rooms, which we enter with an electronic key.
Hackers will continue to exploit security flaws, including hotel room keys. While traveling, I will continue to not leave valuables in the room or at least place them in the safe (which may also be hackable? I will research that and get back to you), and double lock my room, including using the door chain or other manual lock security provided when retiring for the evening.