An unusually cheap device which can open hotel room doors was created by the security researcher with Rapid7, Weston Hecker.
The gadget cost only $6 and it is very compact with the size of a card deck. In addition, apart from opening hotel rooms it can also be used to hack into Point-of-Sale systems and cash register.
It doesn’t come as a surprise that cracking a hotel room would be a piece of cake for hackers but the fact that now anyone can do it by just paying $6 is both surprising and concerning.
Last year another tool named MagSpoof was designed by the famous hacker Samy Kamkar. The device is a credit card/magstripe spoofer and it`s also unusually low-priced – $10. Kamkar used a micro-controller, motor-driver, wire, a resistor, switch, LED and a battery to compose the gadget. MagSpoof has the ability to predict and store hundreds of American Express credit cards and use them for wireless transactions but it can be used at non-wireless payment terminals as well.
Hecker`s tool follows on the Kamkar`s MagSpoof but it is much more improved and upgraded. It uses a “brute force” attack when put next to the door lock and duplicates key directly. Moreover, It not only gives the attacker a brand new copy key to the room, but while duplicating it also gathers information about the hotel room number, the check-out date of the visitors and the encoded output of the key folio number.
“He would then know what data fields needed to be guessed for a key copy to be found.” – says Thomas Fox-Brewster from Forbes -“The hacker could then walk up to a hotel room, hold Hecker’s tool close to the card reader, and it would run through every possible combination of those details, before spewing out the encoded data (i.e. the key).”
The tiny gadget runs every possible combination of the above information and it does it extremely fast. It makes 48 guesses at a key in just one minute. The device`s speed comes from having more antennas that work in parallel like a load balancer, unlike Kamkar`s tool.
“Think of it as load balancing,” – Hecker explained to Forbes – “When one overheats, it moves over to the next one.”
The device hacks into Point-of-Sales systems by being close to the andinjecting keystrokes via the magstripe reader. Many PoS systems` registers can be opened with the F8 key, but with this toll the attacker can exploit the PoS to load a malware hosting webpage and infect the system directly.
“Hecker started tinkering with hotel key brute force attacks in April, though his techniques were somewhat slower, taking as long as 20 minutes to guess a key. He did, however, discover during that research he could use a cheap Chinese MP3 player to inject credit card numbers into an ATM machine for potential theft.” Forbes reported.
Hecker`s $6 gadget is about to be presented this week at the DEF CON conference in Las Vegas.