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February 3, 2017

Americas: Hotel Hackers Lock Out Guests, Demand Ransom

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You can check out any time you like, but you can never leave—at least not if you want to retrieve your belongings from your room first. No, not the Hotel California, but the Romantik Seehotel Jägerwirt, a luxury hotel on the shores of Austria’s Lake Turracher See. Although the hotel is more than a hundred years old, it used a state-of-the-art electronic key card system for room entry, unfortunately not so state-of-the-art that hackers couldn’t access it. After cybercriminals shut down the hotel’s computer systems locking guests out of their rooms, hotel management was forced to pay a “ransom” of 1,500 Euros in Bitcoin so that they could get back in. The money, around $1,800, may not sound like much but according to Christoph Brandstaetter, managing director, this was the third successful hack in less than a year. Brandstaetter says, “We had no other choice. Neither police nor insurance help you in this case.”

nicholas percoco
Nicholas Percoco, chief information and security officer, Uptake

Hotel hacking is not a new phenomenon. In 2015, the point-of-service systems at Starwood Hotels and Resorts, Hilton, and Hyatt were all victims of hackers, but even as organizations sure up their credit card systems, hackers are finding new ways to extract money from the industry.

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