Door locks are continuing to evolve to keep pace with security threats

This is part one of three-part series. Look to the next two issues for parts two and three.

This year will see a return to a focus on basic security for guestroom locks, industry experts say.

“One of the biggest trends [of 2013] was the concern about the security of the cards and the system, based on the hacking incidents and all the publicity that got,” said Bill Oliver, president, North America at VingCard Elsafe, a hotel security company. “I think the incidents demonstrated both lock providers and hoteliers need to pay attention to the evolution of technology.”

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Oliver pointed out that the door lock hacks involved door locks with older technology. As technology evolves, both security functions in the lock and the tools criminals could apply to break them evolve as well, Oliver said.
“It’s like your Windows operating system,” Oliver said. “There’s constant security updates happening to that technology to protect it.”

In 2014, hotels with outdated or obsolete technology on their doors are going to need to consider investing in an appropriate system for the size of their hotel, Oliver said.

“That’s a bit of a capital investment, so it’s important that the customer future-proof that investment,” Oliver said. “Hotel operators are going to want to have a lock on the door that can evolve without a full replacement. If there’s a lock that can be updated with some minor software or hardware changes, that investment is protected for the next eight to 10 years.”

The renewed focus on security comes as hotels adjust to looking at door locks as an IT solution, rather than a standalone product, said Matthew Mrowczynski, VP global hospitality at access control company Salto Systems.

“When I sold locks in the early 1990s, it was a matter of making an appointment with the engineering director—it was more or less an upgraded piece of hardware,” said Mrowczynski. “Today security seems like it resurfaced because of people being able to override the electronics, so security and IT are the key factors.”

 

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