Hotel brings back traditional lock and key after attack

The guests at the Romantik Seehotel Jaegerwirt, a luxurious 4-star hotel on the Alpine Turracher Hoehe Pass in Austria, were in for a shock when they were locked out of their rooms after it was targeted with ransomware by hackers.

Ransomware is a type of malicious software designed to block access to a computer system until a sum of money is paid.

The hackers took control of the electronic key card system that stopped guests from being able to enter or leave their rooms. Additionally, they also had full access over the general computer system, which means that the reservation and cash desk systems were also out of commission.

The hackers promised to restore the system at the luxurious hotel only if €1,500 (£1,275/$1,600) in Bitcoin was transferred to them. After making payment, the system was completely restored allowing the hotel staff to gain access to the system and hotel guests to enter and exit their rooms.

The Romantik Seehotel Jäegerwirt, Jäegerwirt, a luxury hotel in Austria, has gone public with the news that it was recently the victim of an attack during which hackers took control of the electronic key card system that prevented guests from being able to enter or leave their rooms.

Managing Director Christoph Brandstaetter told The Local: “The house was totally booked with 180 guests, we had no other choice. Neither police nor insurance help you in this case.”

The hotel decided “it was cheaper and faster” to cough up the ransom.

This is not the first time that the hotel has been targeted. In fact, this is the third time that the hotel has been targeted in this way, encouraging Brandstaetter to finally carry out a clean sweep of the organisation’s IT – finding a backdoor that the attackers had used in order to return and demand more money.

“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.”

Brandstaetter worked with a cybersecurity company to update their security systems and replaced all the computers that were affected by the attack.The hotel managed to thwart the fourth attack on them due to improved security standards and separation of critical networks.

The Romantik Seehotel Jaegerwirt decided to go public about the attacks to raise awareness; it believes more should be done about cybercrime as this type of attack isn’t going away anytime soon. “For one day we were not able to make new keycards”.

After the hack, the hotel plans on removing the electronic door locks from guest rooms entirely and go back to traditional locks with real keys. “Just like 111 years ago at the time of our great-grandfathers,” Brandstaetter added.

Source: The Local

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