Hotel safes are often not secure
G DATA security experts warn about security deficiencies of safes
Travel documents, cash, mobile devices, cameras, jewellery and company documents – on holiday or on a business trip, tourists and business people alike often carry valuable objects in their luggage. For a small fee, many hotels offer a room safe for keeping important documents and valuables safe. However, these safes are not as secure as is often assumed. When looking at one popular safe model, G DATA SecurityLabs experts found serious security deficiencies. With a little technical effort, the safe can be hacked and cleared out in a very short time. If the safe has a magnetic card reader, it offers criminals the option of using skimming to access the data on the card and offering it for sale on the Internet or in special underground forums. G DATA is offering tips on what hotel guests should look out for when using safes.
The safe model investigated by the G DATA security experts could be opened using various methods. The safe can easily be opened using the master code provided by the manufacturer, which is only supposed to be used to open it in emergencies. Many hotel owners, however, do not bother to change the default code – making life easy for thieves. "We urgently advise hotel owners to change the master code in safes and to regularly check room safes for modifications," recommends Ralf Benzmüller, head of G DATA SecurityLabs.
What is skimming?
Skimming is illegally spying on data on credit or debit cards. This is done by modifying cashpoints, for example, so the contents of the card's magnetic strip can be read. In 2012 the Federal Criminal Police Office recorded 856 cases of skimming in Germany. Thieves can use this method to access credit card information and misuse it for criminal purposes. "Travellers should never use their credit card to lock a room safe, so that no personal information can be read from the card," reports Benzmüller.
Numerous ways to hack a safe
Another option for opening a safe is to hack the emergency lock. The hotel manager usually has an emergency key. However, after unscrewing a plate on the front of the safe, the lock underneath can also be opened using a false key. Alternatively, the code can be reset via a short circuit and a new one entered, which can then be used to open the safe. “A safe is not the worst place to store valuables. Their security, however, should not overestimated”, summarizes Ralf Benzmüller.
More at the G DATA Security Blog.
Tips from the G DATA security experts on using hotel safes: