As the Erin Andrews peephole case at the Marriott Nashville vividly illustrated, no one is safe - even in the confines of your own secure hotel room. Watch the video below, and you’ll realize that secure is not a word to be associated with hotel doors.
The demonstrator here is Barry Wels aka The Key, founder and president of Toool (The Open Organization Of Lockpickers) - a lockpick sportgroup in the Netherlands. The video above was created as part of a presentation for the IT-Defense security congress in Germany.
You can see in the video how he inserts the wire under the door, hooks the handle on the inside and opens the door in a matter of seconds. In a blog post outlining the technique, Barry explains that the tool used to go under the door is available in a ‘government only’ version. It can easily be taken apart into small segments and carried in without anyone noticing.
Ok, so now that you’re scared out of your wits, watch the video until the end. There’s a simple way to prevent someone from using this to open your ‘secure’ hotel door. All you have to do is wrap a towel around the handle, so the wire can’t hook it.
Barry also tells us that most electronic door locks for hotel rooms have mechanical overrides that can be opened using a master key. All a would-be hotel thief would need to do is rent a room, take the mechanical lock out of the door and get a master key made for it. That would open the door to every room in the hotel.
In the comments in Barry’s post, a user suggests an even easier way – “If the cleaning staff at the hotel use the mechanical cylinder, then capturing a photograph of the key would be simple (eg one concealed camera, pointed at the cylinder on any hotel room door).” Shades of Erin Andrews case?
For sure you’re going to be thinking about wrapping a towel around the door handle next time you check-in to a hotel, so remember to ask for an extra towel.