April 25, 2018 |

F-Secure Researchers: Master Keys to Hotels Can be Created ‘Out of Thin Air’

Researchers find room keys at global hotel chains and hotels worldwide can be hacked to gain access to any room in the building.

Helsinki, Finland – April 25, 2018: F-Secure researchers have found that global hotel chains and hotels worldwide are using an electronic lock system that could be exploited by an attacker to gain access to any room in the facility. The design flaws discovered in the lock system’s software, which is known as Vision by VingCard and used to secure millions of hotel rooms worldwide, have prompted the world’s largest lock manufacturer, Assa Abloy, to issue software updates with security fixes to mitigate the issue.

The researchers’ attack involves using any ordinary electronic key to the target facility – even one that’s long expired, discarded, or used to access spaces such as a garage or closet. Using information on the key, the researchers are able to create a master key with privileges to open any room in the building. 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 researchers’ interest in hacking hotel locks was sparked a decade ago when a colleague’s laptop was stolen from a hotel room during a security conference. When the researchers reported the theft, hotel staff dismissed their complaint given that there was not a single sign of forced entry, and no evidence of unauthorized access in the room entry logs. The researchers decided to investigate the issue further, and chose to target a brand of lock known for quality and security. These security oversights were not obvious holes. It took a thorough understanding of the whole system’s design to identify small flaws that, when combined, produced the attack. The research took several thousand hours and was done on an on-and-off basis, and involved considerable amounts of trial and error.

“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. “Building a secure access control system is very difficult because there are so many things you need to get right. Only after we thoroughly understood how it was designed were we able to identify seemingly innocuous shortcomings. We creatively combined these shortcomings to come up with a method for creating master keys.”

F-Secure notified Assa Abloy of the findings and has collaborated with the lockmaker over the past year to implement software fixes. Updates have been made available to affected properties.

“I would like to personally thank the Assa Abloy R&D team for their excellent cooperation in rectifying these issues,” said Tuominen. “Because of their diligence and willingness to address the problems identified by our research, the hospitality world is now a safer place. We urge any establishment using this software to apply the update as soon as possible.”

Disclaimer: No actual hotel rooms were harmed during the course of this research. Attack tools will not be made available.

 

More Information

Electronic Lock Systems are Vulnerable

Researchers Find Way to Generate Master Keys to Hotels

 

About F-Secure

Nobody knows cyber security like F-Secure. For three decades, F-Secure has driven innovations in cyber security, defending tens of thousands of companies and millions of people. With unsurpassed experience in endpoint protection as well as detection and response, F-Secure shields enterprises and consumers against everything from advanced cyber attacks and data breaches to widespread ransomware infections. F-Secure’s sophisticated technology combines the power of machine learning with the human expertise of its world-renowned security labs for a singular approach called Live Security. F-Secure’s security experts have participated in more European cyber crime scene investigations than any other company in the market, and its products are sold all over the world by over 200 broadband and mobile operators and thousands of resellers.

Founded in 1988, F-Secure is listed on the NASDAQ OMX Helsinki Ltd.

f-secure.com twitter.com/fsecure | facebook.com/f-secure

 

F-Secure media relations

Sandra Proske

+49 176 70036664

Latest Press Releases

July 31, 2018

Spam Is Still the Choice of Online Criminals, 40 Years Later

Spam is the number one source of malware as criminals add a few new tricks to this classic method, new research from F-Secure and MWR InfoSecurity finds.

July 24, 2018

F-Secure Listed as a Vendor to Watch in Gartner Market Insight: Address 3 Critical Security Issues to Differentiate Yourself in the Connected Home Market

F-Secure believes its investment in artificial intelligence and relationships with 200 carrier partners worldwide are validated by its report listing.

June 26, 2018

F-Secure SENSE Wins ‘Hotly Contested’ IoT Award from Connected Britain

F-Secure pipped the competition to the post with its SENSE security solution.

June 18, 2018

F-Secure Takes A Big Step Towards Cyber Security Leadership By Acquiring MWR InfoSecurity

Acquisition adds industry leading threat hunting platform to F-Secure’s detection and response offering and expands cyber security services to the biggest markets globally

%d bloggers like this: