Hotels

Japanese hotel chain acknowledges hackers could watch guests via robot staff

A Japanese hotel chain has apologised for ignoring warnings its staff robots could be compromised.

The operators of Japan’s Henn na Hotels – a futuristic chain that staffs its properties with check-in and in-room humanoid or dinosaur robots, or both – has reassured visitors it is endeavouring to prevent a hack from occurring.

This comes after a US-based security expert found hackers could easily access the microphone and camera of Henn na Hotels’ in-room Tapia robots, which aim to assist guests during their stay.

He also alleged in a tweet that he had warned parent-company HIS Hotel Holdings about the bed-side robots being easily accessible in July. After not hearing back from the company, he made the hack public in October.

According to HIS Group, there are currently 12 Henn na Hotels nationwide. At least 10 of these use a variety of robots instead of regular staff, the Tokyo Reporter reported.

Guests are checked-in to Henn na Hotels by either a humanoid or dinosaur robot, before proceeding to their rooms where bedside robots, which allow smartphone access, reportedly assist them with everything from the weather to online shopping.

Image: Dinosaur assisted check-in at Henn na Hotel Maihama Tokyo Bay/Henn na Hotel Maihama Tokyo Bay

HIS Hotel Holdings has acknowledged hackers could gain access to its 100 Tapia robots, including gaining the ability to view rooms remotely, at Henn na Hotel Maihama Tokyo Bay, located near Tokyo Disney Resort. However, the company claims there is no history of a hack occurring.

Speaking to Yahoo Japan, the company said: “The possibility of being hacked can be denied.”

“It is the hotel’s mission to keep our customers safe and secure. We have confirmed that there are no disadvantages to our customers by responding immediately, but those who have seen [Lance R. Vick’s] Twitter post … may be worried,” a spokesperson for HIS told the news outlet.

“We will apologise to such customers and endeavour to prevent the same from happening in the future.”

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