TECH

Hackers Used Ransomware To Lock Hotel Guests' Rooms

No holiday is safe...

30/01/2017 12:12 GMT

Last week The Seehotel Jaegerwirt, a hotel which has been proudly in operation for over 100 years, was hacked. 

Cybercriminals hacked into the hotel’s servers and remotely took over control of all the guests’ doors effectively locking them all in or out.

According to European news organisation The Local, the ransomware that had infected the Austrian hotel’s computer systems then demanded €1,500 to have the system unlocked.

The hotel was, unsurprisingly, forced to pay the ransom at which point the doors were unlocked and they were able to regain control of the building.

This incident is by no means an isolated one. Huge organisations from hospitals to universities have all been hit by ransomware demands with ever-increasing efficiency.

Just last year NCC Group revealed that 28 of 60 NHS Trusts had been hit in the last year, while 31 declined to respond to Freedom of Information requests (FOI), many citing patient confidentiality. 

Sentinel One, another cybersecurity firm, found that 23 of 58 universities had been hit, with 13 declining to reply to the FOI.

So how does ransomware work?

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Typically the software is hidden inside an email. Once the email is opened the virus is installed onto the computer, it will then either search for important personal information or simply lockdown the entire computer.

Once installed the software then demands that the user pays a ransom and in return the victim regains control of their computer.

While it’s most typically found on computers and laptops there are increasing reports of ransomware being found on smartphones.

One such piece of software uses the front-facing camera on the phone to take a picture of the victim, it then locks the phone claiming that the person was viewing child pornography. 

The contents of the smartphone is then completely locked unless a fee of $500 is paid.

Ransomware is completely scalable too, so while in this instance it affects just one person it can also be used to lockdown entire buildings or organisations.