My colleague Bob Bry passed this along....

By plugging the hotel TV cable into a USB TV tuner connected to a laptop computer, Laurie can hack his way into the back-end systems controlling the entertainment and other convenience features found in modern hotels, he said in his presentation.

He found that many of those systems give access to information depending on an ID associated with the room's TV. By changing that ID, he said that he was able to access information for other rooms. Many such hotel systems show guest bills, phone and room service records and offer video check-out.

Laurie found that the hotel TV systems also have special controls for hotel employees. Housekeeping staff can report a room as clean, for example. Additionally, he found that some systems let room service staff input billing for the minibar, which he now controlled.

"Sometimes you can actually control physical devices," Laurie said. In one Holiday Inn hotel he found the system that controlled an electronic lock on the minibar.
I saw that once recently, a sign on a minibar that said "minibar unlocks fifteen minutes after check-in".  But it never did.  Maybe I should have gotten out my laptop. :)

Link: news.com: Hacking the hotel throught the TV >

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