electronic lock

A critical flaw discovered with electronic lock system’s software left millions of hotel rooms vulnerable to hackers around the world.

The electronic lock system could be exploited by hackers to gain access to any room facility, the lock software known as Vision by VingCard manufactured by Swedish company Assa Abloy.

F-Secure’s Tomi Tuominen and Timo Hirvonen carried out the research, they found that the Vision software could be exploited by the hackers within the same network and they gain access to the sensitive data.

How an Attacker Might get Access

Attackers need to get access to any ordinary electric key of the target hotel it can be any key a room key or a key to a storage closet or garage or even the key that expired five years before will work.

Then the keycard data is scanned by using a small hardware device and the device derives many keys to test against the target and within minutes it derives the master key to the facility.

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The master with the escalated privileges gives unrestricted access to the facility. The attack can be performed without being noticed.

“You can imagine what a malicious person could do with the power to enter any hotel room, with a master key created basically out of thin air,” said Tomi Tuominen, Practice Leader at F-Secure Cyber Security Services. “We don’t know of anyone else performing this particular attack in the wild right now.

The research wasn’t an immediate effort, it takes a decade. It was started in 2003 when a colleague’s laptop has been stolen from the locked hotel room without any hint of unauthorized entry physically in the hotel room or digitally in the software logs.

So the hotel staff dismissed the complaint and the researchers decided to investigate further by choosing a lock brand known for quality and security.

“We wanted to find out if it’s possible to bypass the electronic lock without leaving a trace,” said Timo Hirvonen, Senior Security Consultant at F-Secure.

F-secure reported the vulnerability to Assa Abloy and has collaborated with them to implement the security fixes and the update has been provided for all the affected products.

Researchers said we should never assume that no one else has made the same discovery we have, so applying the software update is highly recommended.