High Security

TJ called the Chief Housekeeper and asked, “Is no one coming over today? I mean to get the daily security data? It is already five a.m. Okay, see you in ten minutes. I will be here.”

You’d think they would know by now, but he had to remind them daily. Maybe six months ago you could skip a day, but these days, no way. The Lucerne Valley Hotel had a reputation to maintain. Their business depended on it.

He was only the night-receptionist, but knew that all must play their part. So much had changed in the industry. He recalled when hotel rooms had mechanical locks, the first time around. Every guest received a key and most guests returned them when checking out, however some keys were lost in town, some taken home by mistake, and some deliberately with the notion of committing future crimes.

The Lifetime GM, Mr Kazantzakis, invested in a new system of key cards. They were coded at reception and opened guests’ doors during their stays. The cards became invalid upon checkout, and were erased and reused.

It was a very good system but as with everything these days, hackers worked out a way to override it. They placed the cards into portable readers and stole their codes. TJ was sorry to say that part-androids like himself were more guilty than most; they had a knack for manipulating technology. There was a spate of free stays and break-ins at the hotel. Something had to be done.

They moved to a fingerprint system which again seemed invincible, but the quality of digital cameras these days was such that eating crisps with your beer became a risky act; one greasy fingerprint was enough to undermine security. RFID (Radio Frequency Identification) tags suffered a similar fate. Hackers found a way to pick up tags’ signals with cell phones, which could then act as keys.

Iris scans were a heavy investment, but Mr Kazantzakis felt they were worth it for Executive floors. They worked well for a month before a rush of laptop thefts from female executives’ rooms. Staff discovered micro-cameras installed behind mirrors in female washrooms. They took sharp shots of women applying their eye shadow and mascara.

People’s wallets, laptops, and identities were being stolen, the latter for months, even years. It was hard these days to prove that you were not you. The hotel tried secret codes, secret information, and security tokens, but these also failed.

A housekeeper mentioned that her grandpa, a Luddite and regular gambler, had suggested a system involving interchangeable mechanical locks. There were fifty guest rooms in the hotel requiring locking. If they placed two rusty old locks, each requiring a good five minutes to open, on each door, and swapped a fifth of them around each day, opportunistic criminals would simply get bored of trying and failing. Each entry attempt would require at least ten minutes of work, with only a two percent of two percent chance of success.

Now there was a sheet of daily security data, saying which locks were to be swapped. This, combined with a password from the lobby, puzzling knots securing items, and fake locks that could be set anywhere in the building, ensured the good reputation of the Lucerne Valley Hotel. It held an unassailable four star security rating.

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