Thursday, 13 February 2014

From metal key locks to keycards locks, to smartphone locks - a tweet timeline

Tweet 1 In the late nineteen eighties and  early nineties a spate of court cases and negligence settlements for guests being attacked in rooms (by people copying hotels metal keys and giving themselves unauthorized access) resulted in many hotels changing metal key locks.

Tweet 2 Hotel and Motel chains begin rolling out mag-stripe keycard locking systems as a solution to the metal key problem. Between 10 - 15 million keycard locks are rolled out across the globe over the next ten years. It soon becomes cheaper to replace tens of thousands of metal key locks, than it is to pay for lawsuits.

Tweet 3 - In the late nineteen nineties and early two thousands – Mobile phones become part of our lives. It soon becomes clear that mobile phones can cause mag-stripe keycards to demagnetize. Hotel companies begin a race to create a better room key.

Tweet 4 Hotels continue the hunt for better solutions to the mag-stripe problem. Smartcards (RFID) are ushered in a solution.

Tweet 5 Many hotels begin rolling out the smartcard systems. But these systems prove to be more expensive than mag-stripes, they have problems of their own (e.g humidity can cause them to fail) and the hotel refurbishments can cause major disruptions to guests and operations (e.g having to close for a couple of weeks for a complete rewiring of building).

Tweet 6 Mid to late two thousands (2006+) Smartcard wi-fi solutions are offered to hotels, and hotels begin experimenting with other new technologies.

Tweet 7 Mid 2012, a famous hacking group called Black Hat, demonstrated at an international conference how easily 4 million mag-stripe keycard locks can be opened with an electronic tool that costs under $50 to build and can be assembled easily in minutes with instructions on youtube

Tweet 8 Late 2012 The black hat hacking scandal results in global negative publicity for a lock manufacturing company called Onity, and for many large chain hotels that have the locks installed. The solution or “fix” to the problem played out in the mainsteam media, and many commentators argue that the solution (plugging the exposed port) is not really a fix at all.

Tweet 9 Subsequently many robberies, attacks occurred in hotel rooms with the faulty locks, and the arrests received global publicity.

Tweet 10 In December 2013 over 100 million Americans had their credit card details hacked at Target and Marcus Neiman, as a result of 40 year old mag-stripe technology failing. Mag-stripes are also used in around 16 million hotel rooms across the planet.

Tweet 11 In January 2013, it was reveled that 5 large hotel chain brands, including Marriot and Holiday Inn has also suffered a hacking scandal with tens of thousands of guests credit card details compromised. This hack has also revealed security problems with Hotels Property Management Systems and software (the software used in Hotel chains is sometimes over 15-20 years old)

Tweet 12 In February 2013, a US senate hearing was held into the hacking scandals, with many industry experts and industry commentators calling on the mag-stripe technology to be outlawed by congress. It has been reported that a law could be passed in around one year essentially outlawing mag-stripe technology. This would mean that the ten to fifteen million hotel rooms would need to soon replace their failing mag-stripe technology - by law!.

Tweet 13 Within the last year, the leading four lock manufacturers have announced plans to begin rolling out smartphone operated locks and technology.

Tweet 14 In the last year, a number of car manufacturers, and car rental companies have also announced plans to begin using smartphone unlocking technology in their vehicles.

Tweet 15 In the last year, a number of start-ups have taken pre-orders and are beginning to deliver smartlocks. From 14,000 pre-orders from Lockitron to 100,000 deliveries from Unikey.

Tweet 16 In the last year the worlds number one lock manufacturer, Assa Abloy, and the world’s third biggest hotel chain, Marriot announced trials of smartphone unlocking and check-in systems.

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