Do you know how safe your hotel room is?
A vulnerability in the technology used for hotel doors appears to be compromising the security for as many as four million hotel rooms around the world. Would-be thieves looking to break into hotel rooms need no longer force their way in, but can now instead hack in through door locks that use key cards.
The flaw affects a number of locks made by the company Onity Security, a U.S. lock company that services over 200 hotel chains across the globe. The issue was first brought to light in July during a hacker conference when Cody Brocious, a software programmer, demonstrated how to open Onity locks with dead batteries, according to Forbes.
As noted by the Verge, Onity HT key card locks feature a power outlet used for re-programing. However, by using less than $50 in equipment, hackers can access the on-board memory that stores the code needed to open the lock. Hackers can then copy and distribute the code afterwards.
The same flaw is believed to be responsible for a series of burglaries in Texas hotels, including one that left Janet Wolf without a computer. Wolf, a 66-year-old IT programmer, was staying at the Hyatt in Houston’s Galleria district in September when someone hacked the lock of her hotel room and made off with her laptop. Local authorities have since arrested Matthew Allen Cook in connection to the theft, reports Venture Beat.
Police in Houston have yet to confirm whether Borcious' hacking techniques were used in the theft, but there are increasing reports of similar incidents happening in the States. Petra Risk Solutions, an insurance company, released a notice in the middle of October mentioning that "multiple rooms at several hotels" had been breeched using Brocious' method, according to the Verge.
Onity issued a release addressing the security flaw back in August, suggesting that plugging the ports and changing the types of screws used in instillation would curb further break-ins. However, that responsibility falls to hotels, many of which may opt to continue using the faulty locks as the cost to upgrade to more secure devices remains an obstacle, writes Gizmodo.
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6K In Cold Hard Cash
Leaving a tip for house cleaning is a customary practice. Leaving a zippered bag filled with $6,000 in cash? Not so much. Still, the exorbitant find by <a href="http://www.hotel-online.com/News/PR2010_2nd/Jun10_GoodDeed2.html" target="_hplink">Jeanne Mydil, a house keeper at the Miami International Airport Hotel</a>, wasn't enough to tempt the mother of three. Mydil returned the money to her employers who then returned it to a missionary group.
Socks and shoes are one things to leave behind but an entire leg is a whole different story. Such was the case for one hotel staff member at the <a href="http://www.canada.com/saskatoonstarphoenix/story.html?id=189ac2d8-143d-4932-9ecd-2dc4e2458504" target="_hplink">Fairmont Queen Elizabeth Hotel in Quebec</a>, who found the prosthetic limb after checking underneath one of the hotel beds.
If you thought finding a tiger in your bathroom, a la <em>Hangover</em> was crazy, try finding a shark in your bathtub. That's the surprise hotel cleaners at The Tivoli Marina Vilamoura in the Algarve faced when they found a weakened shark in one of the room's bathtubs -- swimming in tap water when it was in desperate need of salt water. Fortunately, <a href="http://tripatlas.com/guides/Hotels/1404/10_Strangest_things_left_behind_in_hotel_rooms" target="_hplink">the shark was returned to it's natural habitat</a>, according to Tripatlas.
No one knows why a guest at Opus Hotel in Vancouver, British Columbia <a href="http://www.travelandleisure.com/articles/hotels-strangest-forgotten-items/4" target="_hplink">left a bag of weed in their hotel room</a>. Not even General Manager Nicholas Gandossi. "We found a bag of pot stored in a cubbyhole in the back stairwell. Upon sparking one up--er, I mean flushing it down the toilet--we reflected on who might have stored it there...and whether a guest had stashed it for his next trip," said Gandossi in an interview with Travel + Leisure.
Technically, the horse was left in its trailer in the parking lot outside the <a href="http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/4786483/Travelodge-lost-and-found-horse-Porsche-911-World-War-II-medals.html" target="_hplink">Droitwich hotel in the United Kingdom</a> according to the Telegraph. Still, that's quite the find for the hotel's lost and found as the owners failed to realize where their show jumping horse was before driving off.
Unless you're the Tooth Fairy, you don't want to be coming across teeth while staying at a hotel. Even worse is coming across a pair of used dentures, like at the Eurostars Grand Marina GL in Barcelona, Spain. The owner eventually fessed up and<a href="http://travel.ca.msn.com/international/tripatlas-gallery.aspx?cp-documentid=24743580&page=2" target="_hplink"> later asked that the hotel mail the dentures back to them</a> in the United Kingdom.
An Inflatable Sheep
Sometimes counting sheep to fall asleep just doesn't cut it. Sometimes when you want to fall asleep you need to get creative and find an inflatable sheep. Just don't forget it at the <a href="http://www.telegraph.co.uk/travel/picturegalleries/5919314/The-strangest-items-left-in-hotel-rooms.html?image=5" target="_hplink">Travelodge's Edinburgh branch</a>. Photo credit: <a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/raver_mikey/" target="_hplink">Gene Hunt</a>