A malware infection left about a dozen guests locked outside of their rooms at the Seehotel Jägerwirt in the village of Turracherhöhe, Austria. The hackers demanded a ransom of 2 bitcoins or about $1,800.
The threat of ransomware continues to be on the rise. Two weeks ago, hackers infiltrated the surveillance camera system in Washington, leaving 66% of the devices unusable and held for ransom.
Escalating threats have left even hospitals without full use of their internet networks, leaving patients at risk. Multiple efforts have surfaced to combat the threat of ransomware, mostly in the form of international organizations, such as No More Ransom.
The hotel decided to pay the hackers
According to the Jägerwirt’s managing director, Christoph Brandstaetter, they received an email shortly after guests complaints. The hackers warned the amount of bitcoin would double by the end of the day is the company did not comply with the demands.
In the morning of January 22, about a dozen guests started to complain because their doors would not open. Some of them paid about $530 for a suite. Receptionist’s efforts to create new electronic keys did not work, and vacationers kept coming.
Following a line of confused clients, the hotel decided to cave into the hacker’s demands. The email included details of a bitcoin wallet and ended with the words “Have a nice day.”
Paying legitimates ransomware
Tony Neate, a cybercrime expert from British police, remarked that today “anything can be switched on and off, from computers to cameras to baby monitors,” through the Internet.”Hacking a hotel and locking people out of their rooms is a new line of attack,” he ended.
He also added that ransomware demands tend to be low, so the victims pay up quickly. Hackers tend to conduct about dozens of attacks a day so that they can acquire massive profits.
He advised victims of ransomware not to pay, saying that this would only fuel future attacks and that the benefits from this type of cyber crime would most likely go to funding other types of crimes, including terrorism.
Cyber-hijacking in numbers
The United States Justice Department declared this kind of hackings had quadrupled since 2016, with an average of 4,000 ransomware hits a day. The FBI estimates that victim expenses could go as high as $209 million during the first quarter of last year.
A recent study by the Institute for Critical Infrastructure Technology stated that ransomware intended to “wreak havoc on America’s critical infrastructure community.” Hacker group’s continued targeting of public institutions makes this a reality.
Mr. Brandstaetter, from the Jägerwirt hotel, said that he would go public with the event to warn other agencies about the threats of ransomware. He also remarked that, for now, switching to standard real keys and door locks could be their best option to prevent further attacks.
Source: The New York Times