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Hotel Held for Ransom by Hackers

Hundreds of guests were locked in or out of their rooms during the attack.

One of the top hotels in Europe has admitted that they had to pay thousands in Bitcoin to free their hotel after hackers managed to break their electronic key system and lock hundreds of guests in their rooms. Hotel managers at the Romantik Seehotel Jägerwirt, said they decided to go public with what happened to warn others of the dangers of ransomware. The hotel, which is 111  years old, is a luxurious 4-star resort on the Alpine Turracher Hoehe Pass in Austria.

Hotel management announced that this was the worst but not the first attack against the hotel. So far, hackers have broken into their hotel’s computers three times. Understandably, they also said that they wanted to see more done to tackle cybercriminals as this sort of activity is set to get worse. Based on all the stories that have emerged over the past year, from libraries to the San Francisco Metro System, it is indeed getting worse.

The attack, which coincided with the hotel’s opening weekend for the winter season, was so extensive that it shut down every hotel computer, including the ones used for booking and the cash desk system. The hackers demanded ‘only’ a fee of €1,500 (SGD 2,300) to release the computers. The hotel had no choice but to comply.

The Hotel Romantik Seehotel Jägerwirt, in its stunning Austrian alpine location

“The house was totally booked with 180 guests, we had no other choice. Neither police nor insurance help you in this case,” said the hotel’s managing director Christoph Brandstaetter, “The restoration of our system after the first attack in summer has cost us several thousand Euros. We did not get any money from the insurance so far because none of those to blame could be found. […] Every euro that is paid to blackmailers hurts us. We know that other colleagues have been attacked, who have done similarly.”

Once the ransom had been paid, the hackers unlocked the hotel’s computer, but apparently left a back door which was used, unsuccessfully, to attempt a fourth hack. Now the hotel is looking to the past to prevent hacks like this from happening again: “We are planning at the next room refurbishment for old-fashioned door locks with real keys,” said Brandstaetter, “Just like 111 years ago at the time of our great-grandfathers.”

source: The Local

David F.
A grad student in experimental physics, David is fascinated by science, space and technology. When not buried in lecture books, he enjoys movies, gaming and mountainbiking

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