Several days after Google discovered a ransomware code embedded in a power conservation application, a four-star hotel from Austria became the target of a similar attack. According to the hotel’s owners, the hackers somehow manage to explore a weakness in the security grid, thus preventing the guest from entering their rooms. The hotel was fully booked during the attack, and the owner was forced to pay the ransom to regain control of the electronic key systems.
The Romantik Seehotel Jaegerwirt is one of the most expensive hotels in Austria. The four-star hotel charges over $300 per night and it’s the favorite destination of wealthy businesspersons. With very colorful history, the building is over 100 years old, and over the last decades, it underwent several room refurbishments.
During the last one, the hotel managed decided that it’s high time to drop the old lock and key system and to use electronic key systems connected over the Internet. However, they’ve failed to take into account the fact that any electronic device hooked up to the World Wide Web can easily be accessed by hackers.
Unfortunately, the nightmarish scenario came true, putting the hotel’s management into an uncomfortable position. Christoph Brandstaetter, the managing director, declared that recently, an unknown group contacted them in order to say that all the hotel’s doors have been electronically sealed and that the only way to open them up is to pay the ransom.
The managing director also stated that at the time the ransomware attack occurred, the hotel was fully booked, meaning that approximately 180 guests couldn’t get into their rooms. Fortunately, Brandstaetter said that no one was in the rooms at the time of the attack.
Fearing the worst, the hotel’s management decided to pay up the ransom in order to regain control of the systems. As a result, $1,600 have been transferred from the hotel to an unknown bank account. The hotel’s director declared that, shortly after they paid the ransom, they’ve managed to retake control of the electronic key system.
He also added that the reason why the hotel’s management was forced to pay the ransom is that neither the police nor the insurance company could help them, and it was the quickest way to deal with the situation.
When asked about adequate countermeasures, Brandstaetter declared that the management is considering refurbishing the rooms with traditional locks and keys.
Image source: Wikipedia