Hotel owners’ security is sorely tested by new “hackers”

Summer announces the multiplication of “hackers” that take advantage of hotels security breaches to rob rich customers’ rooms. Insurers have a role to play in the prevention of this kind of theft.

Recently, a Russian customer that was staying at the famous hotel NEGRESCO in Nice, was victim of a huge theft. According to the first elements of the investigation, it seems that the thief climbed the facade of the building to sneak into the victim’s room.

If this event recalls other spectacular thefts that happened during the latest years, it announces the premise of a new touristic season for hotel owners and insurers.

This increase is not meant to call into question the liability system applicable to these tourism professionals. However, security measures taken by hotel owners, as guardians of their customers’ goods, rise questions. Actually, many hotels are not equipped with a security system or they are not properly equipped. For instance, they do not have any video surveillance systems in accordance with their typology of place.

Electrical locks, longtime considered safer than classic locks, are not unfailing anymore when facing criminals that are continuing equipping themselves with technological devices. Police forces, but also some specialized companies, communicated their helplessness when faced to the development of these « hackers ». In an article published in 2012, one of them had confirmed the creation of a box allowing to have access to almost 4 million hotel rooms in the world, because of the “standardization of this kind of security”. Moreover, the use of some of these boxes do not leave any trace and the authenticity of a theft is sometimes challenged during the investigation of a loss.

A luxury hotel located in the Austrian Alpes was recently victim of another kind of theft, its security system was hacked to block customers’ access to their rooms. Facing the authorities’ helplessness, the hotel accepted to pay a ransom to the hackers to have the system unlocked.

Even if it is hard to anticipate this kind of events, it is useful to recall that the system scheduled by the article 1952 and following of the Civil Code, imposes to hotel owners a very constraining liability system.

As such, and taking into account the increase and the extent of these losses, that can reach tens of thousands of euros per customer, the deterrents implemented by hotel owners cannot be neglected. Therefore, it is essential to check the risk in order to measure the extent of the security and surveillance system of the hotel.

 

Stéphanie DUMOULIN, Industry and Services Loss Adjuster – Group GM Consultant