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A One-Minute Attack Let Hackers Spoof Hotel Master Keys

In 2003, Finnish security researcher Tomi Tuominen was attending a security conference in Berlin when a friend's laptop, containing sensitive data, was stolen from his hotel room. The theft was a mystery: The staff of the upscale Alexanderplatz Radisson had no clues to offer, the door showed no signs of forced entry, and the electronic log of the door's keycard lock—a common RFID card reader sold by Vingcard—had recorded no entries other than the hotel staff. The disappearing laptop was never explained. But Tuominen and his colleague at F-Secure, Timo Hirvonen, couldn't let go of the possibility that Vingcard's locks contained a vulnerability that would let someone slip past a hotel room's electronically secured bolt. And they'd spend roughly the next decade and a half proving it.

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