Hilton Hotels Allow Guests to Use Smartphones to Unlock Their Rooms, But Is It Such a Good Idea?

hilton-hotels-smartphone-room-keyNext year, Hilton Worldwide will begin retrofitting some of their U.S. hotels with new, Internet of Things door locks, which will allow guests to lock and unlock their rooms with their smartphones. However, critics claim that such locks actually make things less secure.

“Travelers can use their smartphones as boarding passes to get to their seats on an airplane, so it is only natural that they will want to use them as a way to enter their hotel rooms,” said Christopher Nassetta, Hilton CEO. “We are developing proprietary technology that is safe and reliable for our guests to use, and cost-effective for our hotels to install.”

Although Hilton has their guests’ best interest in mind, the new feature may not be such a great idea.

A study by Hewlett-Packard’s Fortify application security unit analyzed 10 of the most popular consumer Internet of Things devices, and found 250 different security vulnerabilities. This means that, on average, each product had about 25 security faults. Although HP didn’t identify which specific products they tested, they did say that they tested home alarm systems, garage door openers, and door locks.

According to HP’s Fortify unit’s general manager Mike Armistead, manufacturers are rushing to make their products available before putting in the hard work to ensure that they’re secure against even the most basic of attacks.

By having a lock connected to the Internet, hackers will be able to break in, and if what HP says is true, doing so will be relatively easy. 

What’s more, if a guest were to lose his or her smartphone, the person who finds it would then be able to get into their hotel room, too, making the keyless locks all the more vulnerable.

By the end of 2016, more than 4,000 hotels across the world will have added this new feature.

As Armistead says about the Internet of Things, “For a hacker, that’s a pretty big new target to attack.”