The premium movie playing on Adam Laurie's hotel room TV screen may not necessarily be one he paid for, perhaps not one intended for his room at all. One night out of boredom, Laurie said, he became interested in his hotel room's TV remote handset and, in the process of exploring it, gained access to premium services, to other guests' accounts, and to the hotel's main billing server.
Unless they are accessing the Weather Channel or CNN, most people do not give the common hotel TV remote a second thought. Then again, most people are not Adam Laurie. He is the chief security officer and director of a London-based networking company called Bunker Secure Hosting, housed inside a decommissioned missile silo outside of the town of Kent. His frequent travels and speaking engagements are the result of Laurie's world-renowned expertise in wireless vulnerabilities found in many gadgets today, including hotel TV remote systems.
Laurie, who still uses the nickname "Major Malfunction," discovered the possibilities after idly tinkering with infrared codes via his laptop one night in a Holiday Inn hotel room. Setting down his laptop, Laurie said he wanted to retrieve a cold beer from inside his previously unlocked minibar. Somehow he'd managed to change one critical value via the TV and locked the mini-refrigerator. If only to rescue his beer, Laurie said he was compelled to rediscover the exact numeric value that would unlock it. And, of course, one thing led to another.