This information is top security. When you have read it, destroy yourself. – Herbert Marshall McLuhan
Hotel safes entail keeping your valuables protected through your stay at facilities where this convenience is offered. But the security of the boxes themselves is not completely fool proof, as there are a number of known vulnerabilities. The vulnerabilities range from physical to logical attacks. Yet many travelers and even hotel staff are awfully unaware about their susceptibility to the schemes.
One of these schemes is surprisingly simple to pull off. It’s favored by international thieves because they can easily obtain a hotel guess’ name and room number (possibly fake ID); while using elements of social engineering, they simply act as a distressed hotel guess locked out of his/her room and save. Hotel security services always ready to assist a customer and unaware of these sophisticated plots, would comply and open room and safe both.
Other attacks go after the digital safes’ electronic panel, cracking the code if given sufficient time. It is important to look into the safes UL ratings to weight the risk of storing irreplaceable valuable objects. These attacks are less commons as the skills required to successfully attack new models becomes less common.
The Historical View
Both hotels and safes have a long history, dating back thousands of years. There are some precursors to the modern safes for instance the Egyptians sought to protect their possessions by burying their scrolls deep in the pyramids; the Assyrians buried duplicates of important documents at separate locations and at the height of the Roman Empire Julius Caesar filed his records in strong, iron boxes. Hotel safes came into existence out of similar concerns when innkeepers sought to protect their patron’s belongings from theft. As far back as the eighteen hundreds lodges and inns where known to advertise safes as part of the security amenities offered to potential clients. One could say that security is one of the intrinsic benefits included in the lodging industries’ offering since their inception. Since the modern concept of hotels has been modeled after the English and Dutch Inn models many the concepts are imbedded in Common Law. Such is the case of the “duty of a hotel to provide safe premises” from which offering hotel safes branches out from.
Today as in the old days hotels offer safes both to minimize liability and for the peace-of-mind and convenience of guest who often bring valuables into their facilities. The truth of the matter is that these safes are only as secure as the procedure used at any given hotel. That is because many hotels have a backdoor access into the safe in case the guest forgets the code or loses the key. This fact can create a number of vulnerabilities starting with the fact that hotel staff can be easily deceived as stated above, as well as the fact that they can also be tempted into surreptitiously entering a guest room to steal values in the safe they have indirectly been entrusted with.
As a hotel guest you’re left with limited options as to how to protect your valuables. Some of the best options are ingenious, but required some knowledge of how the thieves would go about trying to rip you off. What ever your strategy is remember that your best option is prevention. It means that you should probably limit the irreplaceable, valuable items you bring with you to a hotel. Also check your travel insurance coverage for some valuable items in case they’re stolen. Lastly heed the security advice offered throughout this site. A hotel safe is a convenient way to store valuables, but remember the adage about placing all your eggs in one basket.