Swiping your ID

Losing your hotel key-card might put more than just your travel clothes and baggage at risk!

In Robert L. Mitchel’s blog [computerworld] he discusses how Peter Wallace, IT director at AAA Reading-Berks in Wyomissing, Pennsylvania, has been taking a magnetic card reader with him when traveling to see what information the magnetic strip on hotel key-cards contain:

To his dismay, a surprising number have contained his name and credit card information – and in unencrypted form.

In some cases, the cards included his billing address too!

I personally find this very troubling. In the past, We’ve been in the habit of either returning our key-cards to the registration desk or simply leaving them in the room when we checkout. A desk clerk or cleaning person could easily get away with pocketing these cards — hotels pretty much treat them as disposable and don’t appear to make any attempts to account for them.

I may have to take Wallace’s advice and bring them home to be shredded — I may also have to pickup a USB attached card-reader and start checking them myself.

UPDATE (02/14/2006 @ 0640): Follow-up Article: Just a Key-Card.

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